This Week You Will Learn:
- Why Ringo has never looked smoother
- Which PTA movie is the best
- What movies Keanu Reeves recommended to Carrie Moss’s son
- How many collective hours the world spent watching Red Notice
- What happened to Simone Veil (and who she is).
Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion, and Have a Happy Friday!
For Little White Lies, Elena Lazic writes extensively about the faults and virtues of Peter Jackson’s assembly of an infamous Beatles session for the docuseries version of Let It Be:
Ringo has never looked smoother and the band’s Playmobil haircuts appear made of actual plastic, with Jackson’s cutting-edge technology turning whole strands of hair into one unified, shiny surface. Looking at older videos of relatively untouched, grainy but beautiful footage of the same events on the Beatles’ YouTube channel, it’s clear that things did not have to turn out this way. […] An element Jackson handles very well is the sound, and one feels for him and his team whose thankless task it was to try and decipher some of the band’s conversations. One of the strongest impressions left by the series is the particular way Paul, John, George and Ringo communicate when writing songs. Not being classically trained, they have their own ways of making the others understand what they are going for, and their almost amateurish methods appear incredibly fertile ground for their limitless creativity.
Esquire’s Ryan D’Agustino scrolls back through the multi-decade career of Keanu Reeves:
Some of his characters over the years can seem, on the surface, like the doofiest of boobs—Ted, of course, but see also his lovely performance in a movie called The Prince of Pennsylvania. Some are stone-faced and earnest to the point of seeming implacable—Thomas Anderson in The Matrix, Wick, Point Break’s Johnny Utah. But: You always kind of know there’s something else going on, some knowledge the guy possesses that no one else does. He knows something, and we stick with his characters through the strangest places because they aren’t frightened, and we want to know what they know.
A.A. Dowd puts it all on the line at The AV Club and ranks all nine Paul Thomas Anderson features:
8. Magnolia – Here’s where we’ll surely lose some of you. Ask plenty of Anderson diehards (including one who writes for this very site), and they’ll tell you that his sprawling ensemble drama about the entwined lives of distraught, stuck-in-the-past Angelenos is an earnest career highlight. The film certainly has its soap-operatic grace notes, and Anderson wrings a few great performances out of his giant ensemble, including a superb turn from Tom Cruise as a ladykiller guru whose misogynistic pickup-artist gospel is really just an echo of his unresolved daddy issues. Yet never before or since has Anderson strained so strenuously (and so obviously) to deliver a capital “M” masterpiece: Magnolia is three hours of exhausting, self-indulgent crescendo, like six melodramatic movies packed into one, and its pretensions outpace its achievements. Still, in the end, you do have to admire how boldly it risks ridicule in pursuit of transcendence, with big swings like the Hail Mary amphibian shower of the last act and a non-diegetic Aimee Mann sing-along that only a filmmaker high on his own burgeoning audacity and acclaim would dare orchestrate.
Wired reports that Netflix will no longer provide totally inscrutable statistics about its viewership, but instead will start offering somewhat more scrutable data about what’s actually being watched:
The existence of the data also deserves scrutiny. Netflix promises that its metrics will be evaluated by independent accounting firm EY, with a report to come next year. In the meantime, viewers are left to take what the company says at face value. That’s not to imply that the numbers are wrong or inflated, just that the top 10 titles on any streaming platform are probably watched by lots of people, and promoting their status only reinforces their dominance—and gets even more people to click on them. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The truly bold move would be for Netflix to reveal its bottom 10.
Justin Ling writes in Input about the saga of the webcomic Pictures for Sad Children and its disappearing author:
Even if it didn’t exactly tell a linear story, Pictures for Sad Children created a tiny universe with an array of strangely relatable, yet nearly indistinguishable, characters: mouthless people with stick arms, rectangular bodies, and round heads, all living in grayscale. It was a universe where songs have names like “baby i feel bad for feeling bad.” Where the characters have porn on DVD with titles like a japanese woman fries an egg and asks you about your day, and they screen calls on a magical BlackBerry (“DAD, concerned about politics”).