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Virtual screenings again this year means Douglas Laman doesn’t need to emerge from his basement to cover the South by Southwest Film Festival for The Spool, providing capsules and critiques of the narrative films on offer, including the many attempts to deal with the pandemic:
Among the many refreshing qualities about Recovery is that it doesn’t use the pandemic as a means for schmaltzy lessons. With no tidy character arcs to cramp the proceedings, the focus can remain on the most enjoyable parts of the movie, like the warm rapport between the protagonist and chaotic humor. Speaking of comedy, Everton and Call’s screenplay smartly avoids well-worn hallmarks of COVID-era humor. No tired toilet paper shortage or food delivery gags here.
For Ye Olde AV Club, Katie Rife does a deep analysis and bio of Oklahoma indie filmmaker Mickey Reece, whose output and humor earns his work comparisons to things as disparate as The Evil Dead and a sketch from I Think You Should Leave:
The through-lines are these: a style Reece rather self-depreciatingly refers to “people talking in rooms,” and a guarantee that, no matter where you think a scene is going, it will go somewhere else. The first one has earned him the nickname “Flyover Fassbender,” though, as long as we’re name-checking European arthouse icons, “Backwoods Bergman” might be more astute. “The Soderbergh of the Sticks” is another popular one, thanks to Reece’s ingenuity and prolific output; the filmmaker doesn’t seem to mind that one so much, though Soderbergh’s work rarely veers into the high strangeness that’s de rigueur in a Mickey Reece project.
At Bright Wall/Dark Room, Frank Falisi considers the immortal question: am I Bugs or Daffy?
I wanted my laptop to tell me that I’m Bugs or Daffy because they inhabit a reality that bends and morphs at will, always in service of a better moment, a next thing, a something to laugh at. The world (as we understand it) and flailing man-made structures (as we impose them) flange away. It’s not happenstance that the key resolving gag in Rabbit Fire is Bugs and Daffy desperately pulling off “DUCK SEASON” and “RABBIT SEASON” hunting posters until all that’s left is a poster with Elmer’s face on it. And they smile so wide, together finally. It isn’t until declaration of action against mutual hunters that the resolution, the punch-line, becomes plausible.
Pop culture writer and science nerd Annalee Newitz wrote about what they realized about Substack, everyone’s new favorite newsletter platform, and its secret “Pro” payment policy that allows them the benefits of an editorial board without the accountability:
Except Substack is not merely an app. It’s actually a publication. Why do I say that? Because Substack’s leadership pays a secret, select group of people to write for the platform. They call this group of writers the “Substack Pro” group, and they are rewarded with “advances” that Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie calls “an upfront sum to cover their first year on the platform [that’s] more attractive to a writer than a salary, so they don’t have to stay in a job (or take one) that’s less interesting to them than being independent.” In other words, it’s enough money to quit their day jobs. […] That’s right — Substack is taking an editorial stance, paying writers who fit that stance, and refusing to be transparent about who those people are.
In a landmark moment (or, according to some, a travesty) for the chess world, the first double bongcloud has been performed in a major chess tournament, and thus will be officially entered into the annals of chess theory. The Guardian‘s Bryan Armen Graham gives an overview of the maneuver as legend, meme and nerdy display of ownage:
That’s not to say, like, say, Michael Chang’s underhand serve against Ivan Lendl in the 1989 French Open, there’s no place for it at the elite level. Carlsen used it last October in the first game of a speed chess final win over the American grandmaster Wesley So, who confessed to its psychological effects in the aftermath: “It’s hard to forget the game when someone plays f3 and Kf2 and just crushes you. That’s so humiliating.”