This Week, Discuss the Dynamics of:
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Thanks to the maestro 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!
Inspired by science fiction, J.D. Daniels tries to obtain mental powers on a Lovecraftian scale by listening to seven different versions of Bruckner’s 7th symphony, as described in the Paris Review:
Now Bernard Haitink conducts no. 7. This version is James’s favorite. “Very crisp brass,” he texts me, and it’s true that the articulation of many phrases is sharp, clipped, even bitten off. Many performances of these symphonies evoke the ocean, with a constant danger of blissed-out gloppiness. But Haitink is architectural, orthogonal, even gawky in moments. I like the sharp edges. Like Tyrone Power in The Mark of Zorro, sometimes I need a scratch to awaken me.
At Filmmaker, Vadim Rizov considers TÁR‘s take on classical music and cancelings:
We all reserve the right to judge, grow, change our judgments, eat shit and/or admit error, even as the metastasization of bad-faith social media arguments about problematics have muddied the ethical waters. As someone routinely frustrated by how discourses have grown to become The Discourse, I routinely see it every which way: torn between my desire to simply like the work I like, the reluctant admission that there’s always more to consider and the understanding that a lot of people are making it awfully difficult to do either with any intellectual credibility. Beyond my obvious interest in its construction of the classical milieu, TÁR feels like a movie that feeds the worst in me; that’s probably why I like it.
ReverseShot‘s Chloe Lizotte revisits the dividing line between early and late Cronenberg in Scanners:
It starts with an exploding head—or it was supposed to, until test audiences couldn’t recover. Yet the first major beat of David Cronenberg’s Scanners undoubtedly remained the image of a skull bursting from within after a psychic attack. The film arrived eight years after The Exorcist broke ground as a mainstream gross-out, which suggests that the shock of Cronenberg’s scene isn’t only the gore but also its implications. […] The sight is gross, even philosophically unsettling—an obliteration of the mind, the locus of our perceptions—but it is also awesome. Fear oblivion, embrace evolution. This duality powers Cronenberg’s science fiction, all confrontations between human instinct and an uncontrollable future.
At Polygraph, Scout Tafoya gives the definitive history of Stephen King adaptations and posits why they may be an impossible task:
Stephen King isn’t bound by conventional structures or audience expectations. He’s made his imagination into a dependable brand. Studios understandably cannot seem to get their fill of trying to capture some of what makes him so popular, though it must be said that the ratio of well-liked to despised takes on King on film means they’re also gluttons for punishment. Making a single movie out of a book about all of American life (or even two, in the case of Andy Muschietti’s hugely profitable adaptation of King’s It) means shaving off characters and plot points. And it means adopting a style very different from King’s writing, which frequently spends entire chapters on characters or events that don’t move the plot forward, but are essential to the theme and tone of the work. Adapting his work means making choices — and usually sacrificing everything uniquely essential about his work.
Marshall Shaffer casts a critical eye over ten years of Annapurna Pictures for Crooked Marquee:
Her producing style led to ballooning budgets and inflated expectations alike for movies that were otherwise impossible for the industry to support. As similarly high-minded labels like FilmDistrict, Broad Green, and Open Road bit the dust, Annapurna appeared on fire – but only because it was burning cash. This smokescreen merely presented the mirage of an illusory arthouse audience willing to turn out for expensive auteur projects. Unlike A24, which leveraged low-cost digital marketing to create viral sensations generating buzz against their lower-budgeted titles, Annapurna never mastered the art of selling their movies to a crowd that became increasingly hard to reach in the digital era.
Brianna Zigler looks at the unlikable well-off teen protagonist of Funny Pages and the perils of artistic longing:
Funny Pages never lets you forget that Robert is impaired by the cushy, oblivious handholding he’s enjoyed his entire life. When he threatens to get his GED instead of going to art school, his father assures him that he’ll then work in a gas station. “I’d love to work at a gas station,” Robert arrogantly replies. When Robert unwisely invites Wallace to his home on Christmas morning so that he may receive a drawing lesson, he explains that he lives in the middle class part of Princeton. “There is no middle class part,” Wallace bluntly retorts. When we eventually see the inside of Robert’s childhood home—a sterile, modern interior juxtaposed against the temporal placelessness of the film’s setting—we understand that he was born into a life in which his passions would always be nurtured. Out on his own, however, he has nothing. Without money from his parents or guidance from Katano, he’s more vulnerable than a fledgling.