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Daily Reads: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Father Figures, Louis C.K.’s Crabby Love Letter to NYC and More

Daily Reads: Paul Thomas Anderson's Father Figures, Louis C.K.'s Crabby Love Letter to NYC and More

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

1. Louis C.K.’s Crabby Love Letter to New York . The Hollywood Reporter’s Lacey Rose speaks to Louis C.K. about NYC, and it turns into an “epic, crabby love letter” to the city.

New York really drew me from the very beginning. I came here for the first time when I was in high school, and I remember going into the subway by myself. It was the really old, white metal C trains, all dingy inside, and I went into a packed car. It was all these faces — tired-looking people, people from all over the world — and my heart was pounding. It was such a thrill just to be in that. Boston was an ill fit for me as a person because it closes at one in the morning, and I’ve always been a night person. I’d be up till two, three in the morning, just driving or walking down empty streets, and it was so depressing to me. I loved that you could go to a deli at three in the morning in New York, and it’s filled with people. There isn’t an hour in New York where you can’t find a club where there are a bunch of people. Read more.

2. The New Age of Short Film. Don Hertzfeldt’s short film “World of Tomorrow” is as good as any film you’ll see this year, and Kevin Lincoln of Grantland writes that it should spur an era of short films:

Every day, YouTube’s billion users worldwide watch hundreds of millions of hours of video. The range of what they’re watching is the breadth of human existence — I still think regularly about this great Jake Swearingen piece touching on YouTube as the Panopticon — and while art might be only a small part of that breadth, it’s there. Among all the sloth videos and Worldstar fights and confessionals, there’s room for fictionalized entertainment, and not just comedy, which has already landed because it shares well and doesn’t require a full narrative or thematic gist. The best example of this point might be “High Maintenance.” Vimeo will suggest that “High Maintenance” is a television show, because television shows are lucrative and having a television show is prestigious, but “High Maintenance” is much more a collection of short films than it is an episodic series. Each piece is self-contained and autonomous, with a firm beginning, middle, and end, and while they all exist inside the same world, united by main character The Guy, the overlap is an enhancement, not a necessity. Read more.

3. The Secret Life of Props. Mark Rappaport writes at Rouge about the secret life of recurring movie props:

One sculpture caught my eye. When you’re going back and forth editing various scenes, seeing the same footage over and over again, you develop a familiarity with the material you not would ordinarily have. Objects which are placed in a scene just to fill up space, begin to assume an importance they were never meant to have. One of the sculptures that populate Webb’s gallery I subsequently recognised in a publicity still – another use for the items in the prop warehouses – taken by George Hurrell in 1944 of Gene Tierney, a Fox star. It is also used in a casual tracking shot, as incidental art in a well-appointed apartment in Julien Duvivier’s “Tales of Manhattan” (1942), also a Fox film, a portmanteau movie tracing the history of a tuxedo jacket as it passes from one star-filled vignette to another. The male companion to this sculpture can also be briefly glimpsed in the “Dark Corner” gallery. But it comes into its own several years later, when we can get a really good look at it, however briefly, as a prop on a roof terrace, in Cinemascope [in “How to Marry a Millionaire.”] Read more.

4. Walter Scott and the Cinema of Evidence. Ty Burr of the Boston Globe looks at the video of Walter L. Scott’s murder by a North Charleston police officer as “the cinema of evidence.”

Still, even in the cases in which a citizen journalist captures what appears to be obvious evidence of wrongdoing by authorities, the justice system can look away. This is what makes the images of Walter L. Scott’s murder different. Santana was far enough away to hold both Slager and Scott in the frame, yet close enough to show what appears to be the Taser being dropped at the dead man’s side. There are no edits, although Santana lowers the camera every so often, dropping his “eyes” so he won’t be seen watching. It’s all there. This is the cinema of evidence. Read more.

5. Saving Old Movie Houses. Old-fashioned movie houses are closing down. Jason Bailey of Flavorwire argues that they’re worth fighting for.

That said, you can only put so much responsibility on the backs of the people who run these venues. We — whether you’re part of that collective as a moviegoer, a film historian, an event planner, or a festival programmer — have to be the people who come, to borrow a bit of the Field of Dreams parlance. Sometimes it’s more trouble to get to these venues, to patronize them or to book them, but it’s worth the effort, because they’re that important. Read more.

6. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Father Figures. One of the most striking recurring themes in Paul Thomas Anderson’s films is that of the contentious relationship between fathers and sons, both literal and metaphorical. Noel Murray looks at the five types of PTA father figures:

Dodd is another Jack Horner: a generous visionary who’s created a place where outsiders can congregate and feel welcome. And drunken, reckless libertine Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is another Dirk, eager to be around someone so seemingly in control, who can say before he goes to bed each night, “We fought against the day and we won.” But Dodd’s weakness—and what sets him apart from other Anderson mentor characters—is his fascination with Freddie, who exemplifies mankind at its basest. “The Master” is similar in some ways to Anderson’s “Punch-Drunk Love,” in that it’s about someone whose emotions and impulses rise up and boil over in unpredictable, frightening ways. One of the great mysteries of “The Master” is whether Dodd is drawn to this “silly animal” of a man because he wants to understand what he’s up against as a prophet, or because he himself is soulsick, and compelled to misbehave. Read more.

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