This Week You Will Learn:
- Where the title Licorice Pizza comes from
- The difference between Home Alone villains then and now
- How much each player for the Bulls was paid for The Last Dance
- What power pop can be considered camp
- What James Bond and Jesus Christ have in common.
Thanks to scb0212 and Miller for contributing this week. Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion and Have a Happy Friday!
Sam Mendes called you “a true auteur.” Would you describe yourself that way?
I’m very nervous about describing myself with a French word that essentially means psychotic control freak. But in English, I take that compliment, and it’s true that I have a single-minded dedication to what’s in front of me and each film that I make. I find that consumes an enormous volume of my life, so there’s no time for anything else. Sam Mendes can do things in multiple different formats. I look at that career and think, God, how fun would it be to direct a play? But at this point I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Even if something like that was presented to me, I would fear it would take away from what I do, which is write movies and then go and direct them.
The AV Club‘s Katie Rife detects a current of class warfare in the latest 90s remake cash-in, Home Sweet Home Alone:
Now, the McAllisters were bourgeois pigs themselves; they went to Paris for Christmas in the original film, which isn’t exactly a down-home celebration. But here, the film’s explicit framing of Pam and Jeff as downwardly mobile—Pam is a schoolteacher, while Jeff is unemployed—turns Max’s cascade of violence towards them into class warfare. All they want is to get back what was stolen from them. And yet they’re the villains, while this entitled child, raining pain on them from the upper level of his much larger home while his family pisses away tens of thousands of dollars in Tokyo, is the hero.
Scottie Pippin goes one-on-one with Michael Jordan, slamming his role in producing the hit Netflix doc series The Last Dance in his new book excerpted at GQ:
Each episode was the same: Michael on a pedestal, his teammates secondary, smaller, the message no different from when he referred to us back then as his “supporting cast.” From one season to the next, we received little or no credit whenever we won but the bulk of the criticism when we lost. Michael could shoot 6 for 24 from the field, commit 5 turnovers, and he was still, in the minds of the adoring press and public, the Errorless Jordan. Now here I was, in my midfifties, seventeen years since my final game, watching us being demeaned once again. Living through it the first time was insulting enough.
Etan Weisfogel examines how James Bond has shifted from franchise to (gulp) cinematic universe for Dig Boston:
Birth, death, and rebirth are quickly cycled through in the franchise film, and then repeated endlessly. In the origin story, a character is born, an act of becoming. Soon after, this character is put in a situation where they are forced to give their life to save humanity, or something equivalently noble. And then they return, literally or figuratively, to save the world again. You may recognize this arc as the story of Jesus Christ. […] The messiah-ification of the action hero feels especially odd in the case of James Bond, who’s always felt like the least noble and most devilish of the canonical franchise movie protagonists.
For Talkhouse, Mo Troper examines power pop as camp and whether its boundaries are useful, limiting or both:
The point is, “power pop” was once a reliable RIYL if you were already in the club: if you like one of these bands, you will probably like all of them. Genre semantics may seem boring or démodé — or oppressive if you really want to go there — but they have a legitimate purpose for people who are always looking for new music. The debauching of once-hyper specific musical terminology makes discovery more difficult, politics be damned.
And a pair of articles on pop culture passings:
Sheilla O’Malley looks back on the long, stop-start career of Dean Stockwell, who died this week at 85:
Stockwell came a long way from gleaming adorably up at Frank Sinatra in “Anchors Aweigh,” from writhing around as William Powell spanked him, from ripping down the curtains around his bed in “The Secret Garden.” He came a long way from his uptight gay murderer in “Compulsion” and his gorgeously tubercular Edmund Tyrone in “Long Day’s Journey.” He came a long way from Lynch’s “I thought you were dead.” He lived long enough to be able to not just appreciate but feel the love that people had for him, the way audiences fell in love with him for 70 years. 70 years! There aren’t too many careers out there like Dean Stockwell’s. Again: mention him on Twitter, and you will be overwhelmed by people calling out his excellent “Columbo” episodes. People remember.
Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka, founder of one of the most influential corners of the Internet (for better and worse), has died at 45:
In 1999, Kyanka created Something Awful, and today, it’s hard to understate the site’s influence. It also spawned endless, classic memes, such as, “All your base are belong to us,” and was even the launching pad for what became 4chan. Our colleagues at Gizmodo listed it at number 89 in the 100 websites that shaped the internet today, writing the following: “While Something Awful had its moments as a host for various bits of comedy, rants, and reviews, SA’s community is its real legacy. From its forums, Something Awful members gave birth to the legend of Slenderman, an entire new genre of videos in Let’s Plays, and thanks to offshoots like the Goonswarm, SA was indirectly responsible for some of the most massive (and costly) space battles ever witnessed in video game history. It was also, uh, actually awful.”