This Week We Are Hot and Bothered By:
- the butt
- the Boss
- high framerates!
Thanks to scb0212 and Miller for crawling between the sheets for this week’s contributions. Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion, and Have a Happy Friday!
At Slate, Magdalene Tayler demands that White Lotus include a shot of a verboten body hole:
Isn’t it time to change the story? If any network were going to do it, it would be HBO, home of the most dick shots of any show in history. In fact, it would even seem appropriate for hole to appear on a show like Euphoria, where it would quickly become absorbed by the broader stunt and spectacle of the series itself. On a show like White Lotus, however, hole would retain the power to mean something on its own. In the first season, Steve Zahn’s penis wasn’t just there for the fun of showing a penis but was instead integral to our understanding of his character and his anxieties. It was a symbol not just of his masculinity but also of the fragility of his sense of self as he aged, both as a father and as a husband. It served nothing in the way of sex appeal. Couldn’t hole, in whatever form, offer just as rich a symbolic narrative?
Still at Slate but zooming out slightly, Heather Radke offers the definitive history of the Buns of Steel series of exercise videos and its larger context in body image culture:
Smithey says that at first there were only five or six students in his class, but the number quickly grew to over 40 repeat attendees. “They were coming because I was causing their butts to hurt so bad. And soon they started coming in and telling me all these wonderful stories about how their butts look so good and their husbands love it.” He tells me that his greatest moment of inspiration struck while talking to a group of students after class. One of them said: “Wow: Our buns feel like steel.” He recalls, “We all kind of fell silent.” They recognized genius when they heard it.
Lux Alptraum ponders where and how to find bisexual art:
That’s also how I think about bisexual art. To me, it’s not a question of whether there are bisexual people in it or not: art can prominently feature bisexuals characters while not really being bisexual (Brooklyn 99 falls into this category for me); it can also have no explicitly bisexual characters and yet embody this spirit, this curiosity and questioning, and thus be extremely bisexual (I feel like a lot of The Lonely Island’s work actually fits here, which I’ll have to go into detail on another day*). It’s the way that we can recognize that a movie is queer even when it’s populated entirely by straight people — that’s what I mean when I say that something is bisexual art.
For Nashville Scene, Jason Shawhan checks the specs of Avatar: The Way Of Water:
But the problem is that this hybrid approach to [high frame rate] means the brain is constantly being shocked back and forth between the two modes of experience. The ways we perceive traditional 24 fps cinema versus any of the higher frame rates (and here I’m specifically talking about 30 to 60 frames per second, because the really high frame rates, like Lee’s 120 fps Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, don’t even feel like movies, but rather live experiences being watched through the proscenium arch of “reality”) are two very different mental processes. Simply put, as enthralling as the visual pleasures of this film are, it’s impossible for my curmudgeonly old-man eyes to fully engage with what’s happening, because things keep alternating between two very different modes of seeing.
At Downtime, Patrick Preziosi urges viewers to check out the newly available works of Soviet director Boris Barnet:
It’s likely that someone will stumble upon the masterworks of Barnet due to their limited accessibility, either in a reverential comment from filmmaker Jacques Rivette, or perhaps on the YouTube channel RVISION. Amongst its library of Soviet films, RVISION hosts a cache of Barnet’s films: The Girl with a Hatbox (1927), The House on Trubnaya (1928), The Thaw (1931), Outskirts (1933), By the Bluest of Seas and Dark Is the Night (1944). As the cinephile community has been stratified across the internet, our methods of discovery need to be stretched and reshaped. Barnet lives on in the newly established film journal Outskirts, whose first issue offered a full dossier on the director, and in these pockets of online film culture. Alexander Dovzhenko, Sergei Eisenstein, and Dziga Vertov smashed together the mechanics of both past and present, cementing their rightful place in the canon. Meanwhile, Barnet glides below them, cherry picking from innumerable styles of cinema along his own way.
For The Ringer, Elizabeth Nelson looks back on Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska on its 40th anniversary:
The initial shock of its fathoms-deep menace remains undiminished, its major themes more resonant than ever. It’s a 40-minute recitation of corruption and violence that reimagines the to-live-outside-the-law-you-must-be-honest folk heroes of Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding as a promenade of pointlessly marauding psychopaths. Recorded almost entirely to a Tascam four-track, Nebraska is a stark vision of American degradation seen through the lens of a guilt-ridden lapsed Catholic grown prosperous as the world around him becomes less and less reasonable. Its central mystery feels in many ways unresolved: How did Springsteen get from the joyous automotive liberations of Born to Run to the hellscape highways of Nebraska in seven short years? Or was the distance really that far?