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Daily Reads: Why Supervillains Need to Stop Trying to Destroy the World, the Story Behind the ‘Game of Thrones’ Map, and More

Daily Reads: Why Supervillains Need to Stop Trying to Destroy the World, the Story Behind the 'Game of Thrones' Map, and More

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

1. The Story Behind the “Game of Thrones” Opening Credits Map. 
Have you ever wondered about the logic behind the locations that appear on the “Game of Thrones” map during the opening credits? So has HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall who asks producer Greg Spence about the strategy and meaning behind the opening credits map.

“The way the main title, and the way that the camera travels, and crossing the Narrow Sea into Essos is important to us,” says [producer Greg] Spence, “because it communicates the expanse of the show, and it helps to remind the audience of the entire world in which the show takes place. I think if we tried to limit the main title to just places that appear in the episodes, or we’re literally tracing each character, it would be more confusing and less successful at its primary task, which is really orienting people to the world.”

2. Memories of a Repertory Lifestyle. Cinephiles treasure and value the few remaining repertory cinemas open for business because they showcase “a wide variety of old and new films from around the world.” Anne Billson remembers the repertory cinema lifestyle in London during the 1970s and 1980s. 

Mostly, though, rep cinemas were manned by more congenial types – students, oddballs and people like me, who couldn’t seem to get proper jobs, no matter how hard we tried…We were in it more for the films and the flexi-hours than for the pay, which was just as well since it wasn’t very much (though if you played your cards right and returned the favor, you could get into other London rep cinemas for free). One of my favorite rep stories concerns the opportunistic thief who made off with the evening’s takings while the entire late-night staff were watching “Fellini’s Casanova.” I’ve also heard tell of the mirrored surfaces of bars being used to chop up various substances in full view of the clientèle (though obviously that never happened when I was there) and a substitute manager running up and down the aisles, shrieking in terror, during a midnight screening of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

3. Dear Supervillains: Stop Trying to Destroy the Planet. It seems like every movie supervillain these days has a “grand, evil plan” to “destroy the world” with his “insert dastardly, oversized weapon here.” But what are the stakes with these top-shelf threats? Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri requests supervillains to aim a little lower next time.

To be sure, no supervillain ever really achieves their aims; that they will fail to incinerate the planet or enslave the human race or destroy the galaxy or whatever is pretty much always a foregone conclusion. But despite the pre-ordained outcome of these stories (bad guy thwarted, entire cities leveled), the degree to which we in the audience feel the threat can vary tremendously. For example, in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, the stakes are big, but manageable — and imaginable. The Joker in “The Dark Knight” wants to reduce Gotham to anarchy. Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” sort of wants to do that, too, but he also wants to blow the city up with a nuclear weapon. In Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2,” Otto Octavius (a.k.a. Dr. Octopus) doesn’t so much want to destroy New York as he simply doesn’t care if his scientific experiment also happens to flatten half the city. All of these threats are monstrous, but they have texture and resonance: We can imagine what this level of devastation and destruction might feel like. (To those of us who lived through 9/11, some of it might even be a little too close for comfort — though how a film handles that particular echo can vary dramatically, too.)

4. A Review of John Frankenheimer’s “The Train”. KL Studio Classics recently reissued the 1964 John Frankenheimer film “The Train,” a film about a group of French Resistance members trying to stop a German colonel from stealing priceless pieces of art from the Jeu de Palme museum. The Dissolve’s Scott Tobias reviews this lesser-known Frankenheimer film.

Though “The Train” is a marvel of old-fashioned action craft, from invisible dolly shots of breathtaking sophistication to the careful staging of massive railway catastrophes, it’s not a thoughtless adventure by any means. There’s an irony in the cat-and-mouse relationship between Labiche and von Waldheim: Despite selling the urgency of his plan to superiors by stressing the billion in war funds that could be generated by “degenerate art,” von Waldheim is a true aesthete with a curator’s eye for value; Labiche couldn’t care less about art, but has enough passion for France and for thwarting the Nazis that he’s willing to protect the art at the cost of his own life, even as the war is drawing to a close. Both men treat the art as precious cargo, but for very different reasons. And in Labiche’s relationship with Christine, played beautifully by Jeanne Moreau, the film delves deeper into the reluctant heroism of everyday French citizens, when it would have been safer to mind their own business and wait for liberation.

5. The Surprising Evolution of Louis C.K.’s Philosophy of Love. This season of “Louie” has focused on its titular protagonist’s attempts to navigate complex social waters in a less manic, more equitable way. Slate’s Lili Loofbourow analyzes how season 5 of “Louie” charts the evolution of Louis C.K.’s perspective on love and self.

This episode isn’t about Louie becoming a woman; this isn’t a matter of identity. But it is about Louie figuring out forms of love that overwrite love as possession — or love as winning — in favor of things like empathy and comprehension. Louis C.K.’s stand-up on what it must be like to be a woman has gradually given way to experiments wherein he lets go of his masculinity and actually tries some woman-stuff out. In Season 3 he’s sewing because he has to — the Christmas finale has him desperately trying to fix an eyeless doll and sewing her back together. By Season 5, he’s knitting for pleasure. In Season 4, he repeatedly allows himself to be helped by old ladies. He buys a vibrator and uses it for his back. If in earlier seasons he cooks grouchily for the girls, by Season 5 he’s shopping for expensive cookware and volunteering to make fried chicken — which he makes expertly and enjoys making, even if it doesn’t quite work out.

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