This Week, You Will Get Freaked Out By:
- bad hair days
- true crime
- popstar memoir
- a new Letterboxd user
Thanks to scb0212 and Simon DelMonte for creeping up with contributions 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!
At rogerebert.com, Bijan Bayne eulogizes Richard Roundtree:
Where male leads such as Poitier and his contemporary Harry Belafonte assumed relatively tame relationships with their female counterparts, Roundtree’s Shaft leaned into the sexual revolution of the decade. Free of the restrictions of Poitier’s heyday, Roundtree swore on screen and, in the terminology of the era, “bedded” beautiful ladies. Brothers wanted to be like him; sistas wanted to be liked by him. The former model lent depth to a role that may have come off as comic book or superficial in the wrong hands. Roundtree’s flashing smile, well-timed wit, and believable bravado layered into unavoidable screen sex symbolism. He was critically well-received, earning a Golden Globe award as Most Promising Newcomer in 1972. But it was the sex that sold.
Laura Williams talks about messy hair as metaphor for a character’s mental state in movies for Dirt:
Womanhood and its messy, harried and hairy reality is not an attractive comparative state. There are also crucial differences in how messy hair can be perceived. Messy hair on a white, catwalk model is ugly-beautiful, but “unkempt” hair has a history of being weaponized against Black women, such that it’s become a horror trope. In Hulu’s The Other Black Girl, hair becomes the object of satire, as a hair gel is presented as the solution to workplace inequality. “Hair product becomes an easy fix for a problem that is hundreds of years in the making, ultimately saying that to be successful all you need is to change who you are, straighten your hair, or smile,” Jess Lee wrote for PopSugar, on the series.
Crooked Marquee‘s Julia Sirmons discusses true crime trends and the melodrama I Want to Live!
For all its other merits, I Want to Live! rests on Susan Hayward’s performance as Barbara. (Hayward won the Best Actress Oscar for the role.) Her expressions can quickly switch between coolness and anger, from stoicism to intense vulnerability. It’s refreshing to find a female defendant who doesn’t conform to the mold or play the game. There’s no meekness, no finding the light of the Lord; Barbara never bows her head, remaining defiant to the end. Hayward sells this defiance with insouciant poses and fiery eyes. You’re enthralled and proud of her, even as you see her dig a bigger and bigger hole for herself.
Laura Snapes reviews the new memoir by Britney Spears for The Guardian:
Anyone looking for starry anecdotes or studio vignettes won’t find them here. Instead, The Woman in Me tells a focused story that makes inarguable the ties between patriarchy and exploitation, and deserves to be read as a cautionary tale and an indictment, not a grab-bag of tabloid revelations. After all Spears has lost, the sharpness of her perspective is a miracle. She repeatedly questions why – whether as a teenager in a crop top “corrupting” the youth, or a 25-year-old getting drunk at the club – she was perceived as “dangerous”. May her truth pose a legitimate threat to the system that exploited her.
Sometimes the online world gives more than we deserve. Case in point: Martin Scorsese has a Letterboxd account now. And instead of using it to troll Marvel fans (for now), we have a list of “Companion Films” to each movie in his filmography:
Over the years, I’ve been asked to pair my own pictures with older films by other people that have inspired them. The request has come from film festivals, which present the pairings as a program. The terms “inspiration” and “influence” aren’t completely accurate. I think of them as companion films. Sometimes the relationship is based on inspiration. Sometimes it’s the relationships between the characters. Sometimes it’s the spirit of the picture. Sometimes it’s far more mysterious than that. Here is a list of my own films and their companions in cinema history.