So many demons are feeding on us. Just in the last few weeks, a potential plague has arrived on our shores. Hooded murderers materialize on our screens, sawing off the heads of bound captives. Cameras — some attached to hovering drones — scrutinize our comings, goings, and stayings. Electronic screens hypnotize children into inertia. Sociopathic vigilantes set upon African-Americans. Reactionary males portray unmarried females and mothers with careers as a danger to families, threatening, behind internet masks, to rape and disembowel the women who displease them. Seas rise, species die, the Earth is poised to punish humanity for its arrogance. We can’t push this stuff into our unconscious. There isn’t enough room. And it won’t stay buried. We know that soon enough there will be blood — and gore — and all the other things you can find right now in an average horror movie.
This piece originally ran on Sept. 21, 2014. Last night, The Death of Klinghoffer opened at the Met and was met, as predicted with protesters outside the auditorium — including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani — and hecklers inside. Justin Davidson will have a full review of the opera later today.
Will an opera about terrorists ever not be timely? Can The Death of Klinghoffer ever stop incandescing? John Adams’s work had its premiere in 1991, when the events it was based on — the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of an American passenger, Leon Klinghoffer — were still raw memories. In the years that followed, occasional new productions and weekly bursts of lethal fanaticism kept reactivating the arguments about the opera. Now that it’s finally coming to the Metropolitan Opera, Palestinian hijackers seem almost to belong to another era, before 9/11, before Iraq and Afghanistan, before anti-Jewish riots in Paris, before drone strikes, Iron Dome, and YouTube beheadings. Through all of that, Klinghoffer hasn’t lost its sting.
Tonight on Conan, Alan Cumming gave his account of the now-famous incident wherein Shia LaBeouf was arrested for being disruptive during a performance of Cumming’s Cabaret. LaBeouf gave his own account of the whiskey-fueled debacle on Kimmel earlier this month, and Cumming adds, "I think he was really messed up, obviously … he was just wasted, and he was wasted from the second he walked into the thing." Still, Cumming was very gracious and forgiving about the whole thing, explaining that LaBeouf's justification for slapping him was that he was "the sexiest man he'd ever seen." There's no real good excuse for drunk-slapping someone in the midst of a live Broadway show, but we guess that's as good a reason as any?
The Wrap reports that Darren Aronofsky will receive the Humane Society’s first-ever filmmaker award, for his “compassionate decision” to use CGI instead of real animals on the set of Noah. “When I started working on Noah, an early question was how to express the vastness and complexity of the animal kingdom on the big screen,” said Aronofsky in a statement. “It was quickly apparent that working with live animals would be dangerous for them. It was also morally ambiguous considering we were making a film about the first naturalist, Noah, who saved and cared for all the varied species on the planet.” Kudos to Aronofsky for doing Noah proud and respecting all of God's creatures, even the giant rock monsters. Especially the giant rock monsters.
Shonda Rhimes had some choice words for one of her Twitter followers on Sunday night, in response to the tweeter's complaint that "The gay scenes in scandal and how to get away with murder are too much. There is no point and they add nothing to the plot.” In response, Shonda unleashed a torrent of furious Twitter wisdom upon us all (while simultaneously demonstrating top-notch use of the phrase "Bye, Felicia"):
At a stand-up show in Philadelphia last Thursday, Hannibal Buress lambasted Bill Cosby, calling out the allegations of sexual assault that have dogged the comedian for the past decade (you can read a timeline of the abuse charges, from 13 different women, here). "It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the fucking smuggest old black man public persona that I hate," Buress commented.
Deadline reports that SNL staff writer Leslie Jones has been promoted to featured player ahead of this week’s Jim Carrey show. Jones became a writer for the show following the talent search in early 2014 that resulted in the hiring of Sasheer Zamata, but her guest spots on "Weekend Update" — from her relationship-advice segment on this year's season premiere to her controversial "No. 1 Slave Draft Pick” bit about slavery last May — proved that she can hold her own in front of the camera as well. Congrats, Leslie!
Plays about writing are bores or lies or both. The drama of the process, entirely internal and largely concerned with semicolons, can’t be staged, so a different drama has to be manufactured. Usually this involves clichéd obstacles and a sort of deus ex typewriter for the climax, justifying yet somehow invalidating everything that came before. You could argue that the vicissitudes of writing movies instead of prose — the collaborators, the studios, the test audiences, the Hays Office — offer a dramatist many ways around the problem, which is why there’s a mini-genre of comedies about screenplays. Indeed, those things did help Ron Hutchinson’s Moonlight and Magnolias, which in 2004 hitched a ride on the back of Gone With the Wind, telling the story of its emergency plot transplant at the hands of David O. Selznick, Victor Fleming, and Ben Hecht. The resultant play wasn’t awful; for that we had to wait until Billy & Ray, the new supposed comedy at the Vineyard about the writing of the 1944 classic Double Indemnity. All the same tools produce a unique mess, and the best thing I can say for it is that it should make a good deterrent.
It took longer for me to get through Private Violence, a feature-length profile of an advocate for battered women that airs on HBO tonight at 9 p.m., than any TV documentary I've seen. The filmmakers should consider this a compliment. I kept starting the damned thing and then stopping it after ten minutes, then watching it another ten minutes, then stopping, always to collect myself, or steel myself. If I'd seen it in a theater I might have left for a while, or watched certain scenes through splayed fingers. Anybody who's experienced the situations chronicled in this film will understand why: Domestic violence is a door marked "Do Not Open," and here is Private Violence, opening it, and saying, "Step inside, have a look."
More of what's to come from the new Taylor Swift album, 1989, a track called "Welcome to New York," clearly inspired by Swift's own experience moving to New York. (Well, at least, her experience of buying a penthouse apartment in New York.) It certainly captures a bit of that big=city wonderment, doesn't it? I guess someone already found her way out of the woods (and into Times Square).
Bethenny Frankel will return to The Real Housewives of New York City when the show comes back for its seventh season, Bravo announced today. (No word on when, exactly, the season will start, but probably around February or March, if history is any indicator.) Frankel was an original cast member and lasted for the show's first three seasons, eventually developing enough reality-TV momentum to tour as a solo act; she had two other Bravo shows, a short-lived daytime talk show, and a permanent spot in the tabloids chronicling her business ventures and ongoing divorce. Perhaps you can go home again, Bethenny. But will the other Real Housewives have changed the locks?
The Brunch Wars finally have their own (Eggs) Benedict Arnold: After igniting a media firestorm with his controversial remarks on the weekend meal, Julian Casablancas now says brunch is fine after all. Back in September, Casablancas told GQ the he left New York because he didn't like how many more "white people having brunch" he could stand to look at, and like a modern-day Gavrilo Princip, Casablancas's lone shot soon sparked a larger conflict. Brunchers of all races took up barricades on Twitter, while the New York Times unveiled a full op-ed assault upon the meal. Now Casablancas himself has turned to Twitter to play peacemaker:
If you didn’t know better, you’d think that Laura Poitras’s "Meet Edward Snowden" documentary Citizenfour was an avant-garde paranoid conspiracy thriller. Hold on, it is an avant-garde paranoid conspiracy thriller. It opens with a blurry tunnel; winking monitors scrolling metadata plucked from Americans’ emails; images of huge, futuristic, otherworldy government surveillance centers; encrypted communications — flurries of characters — that resolve into edgy cyberdialogues between the National Security Agency whistleblower and the filmmaker; and, finally, exacting exchanges between Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald high up in a blankly modern Hong Kong hotel, which might or might not be bugged. The music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is like malignantly buzzing wires that eat into your cerebral cortex.
Deadline reports Key and Peele are finally making a movie. No, it's not the Judd Apatow–produced one we told you about or their Police Academy reboot; it's called Keanu. Key and Peele play friends who pretend to be drug dealers to get back a stolen cat (the cat is named Keanu). Jordan Peele wrote the script with Community writer Alex Rubens, and Key & Peele director Peter Atencio is in talks to direct. The film is scheduled to shoot by April. No word on a projected release date. Also, no word if the villain will be played by
Jaleel White Urkel.
Through long takes and immersive tracking shots, films and TV shows like Goodfellas, Boogie Nights, and True Detective have given viewers the impression that they're watching drama as it unfolds in real time. Birdman continues in this tradition, immersing viewers in the tortured headspace of Michael Keaton's emotionally disturbed, has-been actor through one seemingly uncut two-hour shot. It’s the latest triumph for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who pulled off last year’s 12-minute opening shot in Gravity and several memorable long takes in Children of Men. But Birdman’s Alejandro González Iñárritu isn’t the first filmmaker to attempt a feature-length tracking shot/long take, nor is he the first director to include several invisible cuts that divide his film's action into multiple smaller takes. Here are nine other very long movie shots.
Jessie Ware's 2012 debut record Devotion was a wonderful, romantic, smooth as hell R&B album; her follow-up, Tough Love, is packed with just as many lovely, dynamic, powerful, restrained, beautiful songs. To put it simply: We are hooked. Vulture spoke to Jessie Ware about the record, working with Miguel, Ed Sheeran, and BenZel, sexy-talking breakdowns, channeling Beyoncé, and how pork buns influence her.
Everyone loves to cover Sam Smith, but not everyone can pull it off. But we'll keep trying as long as we're given the karaoke microphone. Good thing there are singers like Kelly Clarkson who make the entire thing seem effortless.
There's an apocryphal story in Game of Thrones fandom that goes like this: Around 1997, author George R.R. Martin saw Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin, and, like many other people, hated it. Martin's ire was particularly drawn to George Clooney's infamous bat-nipples, and he began looking for a way to get literary revenge. Whether or not the story is true, this much is fact: Starting with 1998's A Clash of Kings, the author introduced a new phrase to the Westerosi lexicon: "as useless as nipples on a breastplate." So far in the "Song of Ice and Fire" series, Martin has used the expression to describe everything from dragonglass knives to Grand Maester Pycelle. It's clear: Despite how much GRRM loves nipples in other contexts, he really does not like them on breastplates.
Commence cow-having: Simpsons World, the app/website/legal drug offering access to every episode of The Simpsons, will finally launch Tuesday. It’ll be available via website (SimpsonsWorld.com), the FXNow iOS and Android apps, Xbox, Apple TV, and Samsung Smart TVs. (If you need a guide as to which episodes to watch, we've compiled the 100 best for you right here.) And in addition to letting you watch any episode you want (with commercials, FYI), FX promises these features at launch, per a release announcing the unveiling:
Before today, observers knew only two things about Disney's upcoming Moana. One, that it would be about the adventures of a Polynesian princess sailing the Pacific; and two, that it wasn't coming out until 2018. Turns out only one of those things was correct! While sharing the first official image of Moana, who's only the fifth Disney princess not to be a white girl, the studio also announced the film was coming in 2016, much earlier than expected. You have two years to bone up on your navigational knowledge. (It's okay if you just play The Wind Waker.)