The past returns in re-reinvestigations of murder and political television ads! The future looms in mostly empty theaters and the health of loved ones! How do we cope? Sex. Wait – we’re movie nerds. Watching sex.
Thanks to Rosy Fingers for contributing this week, may he find peace in saying “So it goes.” Send future articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail! Discuss past articles from the prior week below! And stay present in a Happy Friday.
Kirsten Johnson talks to Nick Newman at The Film Stage about the Netflix premiere of her new documentary Dick Johnson is Dead and the connections of dealing with her father’s dementia and the state of the world at large:
There’s so much hidden grief now in the world and it’s going to change the world in ways we don’t understand yet. We’re also just all sharing this anticipatory grief, which we were all talking about. Such great people to be in conversation with, but their relationship to cinema—their inquiry of cinema—is this ongoing inquiry into what we need to survive, to thrive, to make things better. All those questions are why we care so much about cinema, in a certain way. It gives us this space in which to ask these questions.
At Filmmaker Magazine Lauren Wissot interviews Marc Smerling about his new true crime series A Wilderness of Error, which reinvestigates the Errol Morris book of the same title which reinvestigated the famed true crime classic Fatal Vision:
No one ran at the camera for this story. Everyone felt betrayed by one storyteller or another. So this was a tough assignment and it took a long time to gain people’s trust. […] [I]f you are doing this job and you have an agenda other than looking at every piece of evidence, searching the record, talking to everyone, to find out what actually happened, you are are not doing the job. And if you have an agenda going in, you may get yourself in trouble.
As the question of when – or if – the movie theater experience will fully return to normal, Wired’s Jordan Crucchiola asks, what if it doesn’t? What if it’s better?
The previously established theatrical pipeline was something of a trap, but the good news is this: from wreckage comes rebirth, and while it’s entirely unclear what the state of the cinema house will be in some hypothetical future when our every public behavior is not determined by the novel coronavirus, I don’t hope it’s the same as when the doors to the multiplexes and arthouses closed this spring. There wasn’t a place for every movie at every theater, and there wasn’t a place for every film lover—not even at the most hip and “inclusive” small chains or independent locations, and those were often luxuries of heavily populated urban centers, anyway. When America goes back to movie theaters one day far away from today, what if the experience is better than we left it?
Reverse Shot‘s Kathryn Cramer Brownell talks about the birth of political ads and the shift of party control from organizers to advertisers (it also contains a link to a smear ad so quaint it may be the only political ad ever made worth watching):
In total, Eisenhower filmed 40 spots—all between 20 and 60 seconds—which aired in 40 states. The production process was draining and frustrating for Eisenhower. When one reporter expressed concern about a glare from Eisenhower’s bald head on camera, Ike snapped, “Why don’t you just get an actor?” In the end, however, the GOP nominee listened to the Madison Avenue experts and other media advisors like actor Robert Montgomery, even as he lamented, “To think that an old soldier should come to this.”
And in science news, Carrie Wittmer publishes her exhaustive findings in The Ringer on which movie sex symbols actually do the nasty on screen the most:
To ensure accuracy, the definition of sex that I would time with my stopwatch (the clock app on my iPhone) became: visible humping/suggested penetration, off-camera sex with sex sounds made by the actor or another visual cue that makes it clear sex is occurring, and oral sex under the same criteria. Masturbation did not count, unless other people were involved in it, or if an actor was, for example, fucking a peach. I also did not count Downey sticking his hand inside a dragon’s ass in Dolittle (2020).