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Daily Reads: The 15 Best Robot Movies, Tina Fey’s Good, Weird New Show, and More

Daily Reads: The 15 Best Robot Movies, Tina Fey's Good, Weird New Show, and More

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

1. Tina Fey’s Good, Weird New Show. Tina Fey’s new show “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is weird, but in a good way. Racked’s Lili Loofbourow writes:

On paper, the show sounds like a worryingly sincere defense of pluck. And it is, in a way—given what she’s survived, Kimmy Schmidt is “unbreakable,” and her resilience is part of what makes her compelling. But she’s both sustained and crippled by a set of sunny coping mechanisms that scan (especially once Kimmy moves to New York) as clueless and uncool and which—more importantly—aren’t serving her well in her new life. The slow surprise of this show is how it theorizes the links between Kimmy’s suffering and her other qualities. Her kindness, ambition, honesty, persistence and sincerity are all warped by the fact that she’s had to learn to endure her life in ten-second increments. Read more.

2. The Best Robot Movies. Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri picks the 15 greatest robot movies of all time. 

“Ghost in the Shell”: Mamoru Oshii’s anime masterpiece is one of the more important films of any kind made in the past 30 years, thanks in part to the way its influence has filtered out through “The Matrix” movies. With its hot female cyborg hero (an empowered female who, alas, comes straight out of a teenage boy’s fantasy) and a story in which characters can shapeshift and enter in and out of digital realms, it’s a film about the increasingly blurred lines between humanity and technology — the fundamental dilemma at the heart of most robot films. Read more.

3. Birdmen of Tinseltown. Indie Outlook’s Matt Fagerholm compares and contrasts “Maps to the Stars,” “Birdman” and “The Congress,” the latest looks at Hollywood and its relationship to actors.

Like “Birdman,” “Maps to the Stars” is a show business satire infested with ghosts more psychological than supernatural. As Segrand madly pursues the role of her late mother (Sarah Gadon) in an upcoming biopic, she is stalked by an apparition taking the form of her mother at the pinnacle of her youthful beauty and sensuality. Giving voice to all of her daughter’s insecurities, the ghost hurls abusive words at Segrand, while striking poses that illustrate her physical superiority. At one point, she reenacts a scene from earlier in the film, reciting words previously uttered by her daughter as if auditioning for Cronenberg himself, proving—at least in her mind—that she should be the lead. Read more.

4. Mattew Weiner’s Required Viewing. When Matthew Weiner started “Mad Men,” he found ten movies that were required viewing for those working on the show. LAist’s Jen Carlson writes:

“The Apartment”: I had seen this for the first time in film school and was bowled over by the dynamic writing and the passive nature of its hero, Jack Lemmon’s C.C. Baxter. It is definitely a story of its times, firmly rooted in a Manhattan where seemingly regular men behave unscrupulously, and it completely engaged my imagination as a representation of office and sexual politics at the time. It blends humor and pathos effortlessly.” Read more.

5. Albert Maysles’ Filmmaking Tips. Landon Palmer of Film School Rejects collected Albert Maysles advice for aspiring directors.

And it’s very important right from the start to form a relationship with your subject where you are trusted. This way they are allowed to do what comes naturally, to disclose rather then to keep secret. This authenticity and ability to empathize comes from the cameraperson and the director. These are the words that keep coming up for documentary; empathy, experience, open-mindedness. I would have the same advice for life. Establish an empathizing relationship. Mostly, with your eyes, so upon meeting someone they will, from the start, catch something in your eyes that indicates there is empathy. And then the rest of your relationship, the empathizing guarantees the subject to continue being himself or herself.” Read more.

6. 8 Things About Albert Maysles. Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com, meanwhile, wrote about 8 things that made Maysles great.

Albert Maysles believed the perfect was the enemy of the good, and his work embraced this idea. He was almost perversely proud of the fact that his films, solo or with his brother David, were rough around the edges, that sometimes they missed moments, and sometimes the picture or sound were a little rough, or flat-out bad for a few seconds here or there. It was part of the aesthetic. Read more.

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