The FAR has the capacity to ingest amounts far beyond the capacity of mere mortals. This is why we encourage moderation when reading these stories about excesses of chocolate, online criticism, humanism in television personalities,
We never get enough of scb0212 who generously contributed 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!
David Marchese at The New York Times Magazine delivers a thoughtful interview with LeVar Burton about his career, persona, and pursuit of the permanent Jeopardy! hosting job. Plus, calling Steve McQueen “Pappy”:
I obviously have no idea if that’s how you experience the public’s affection, but I was wondering whether — as a presumably multifaceted human being — inhabiting that persona ever feels limiting? That’s pretty probing, David.
That’s my job, LeVar. OK, yes, there are responsibilities that come along with this privilege of celebrity. With influence there is obligation. But my goal is to be authentic to myself as well as have a real relationship with those that I come in contact with through storytelling. That’s the nature of who I am. We love to make each other feel good, and feeling good is one of the privileges of being human, as is feeling at all. I gravitate toward the good vibe. As Jessica Rabbit said, “I’m just drawn that way.”
At Bright Wall/Dark Room, Kate Blowers writes about Toshiro Mifune and the art of failing on-screen:
Mifune excelled at playing characters railing against the plan life seems to have for them, and his natural dynamism, magnetism, and ferocity means that as the viewer, we never pity him, and genuinely believe that through sheer tenacity, he might yet win. When things go wrong for Mifune—as they often do, particularly in his earlier films—they go tremendously wrong. It is then up to him to decide whether to roll with the punches, or stand his ground and fight back against the terrible plan life seems to have for him. Mifune’s great skill is being able to make both courses of action seem noble, aspirational, and heroic. Even when his decision is misguided, he is never anything less than magnificent in the face of plans unravelling. I’ve been watching a lot of Mifune movies lately, because in their chaos and misfortune and tragedy, they are—paradoxically—something of a comfort. Yes, everything may go wrong, they seem to suggest. But at least it can go wrong in style.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Seth Abramovitch tells the story of Witold Zacharewicz, a Polish movie star celebrated at Cannes and on the verge of Hollywood success who instead met a tragic ending resisting the Nazis in World War II:
But nothing — not even Hollywood stardom — could get Zacharewicz out of a yearlong mandatory military service in the Polish army. And so on Sept. 1, 1938, one year before Germany would invade, he reported for active duty. “It was a year of training,” says Zuzanna. “And by the time he finished his tour of duty in the army, the war had started.” On Sept. 17, the Soviets invaded. United Artists offered to intervene and try to bring Zacharewicz from Poland to the U.S., but he declined. “For him, the choice was obvious to stay there and defend Poland along with all his friends and countrymen,” his granddaughter says. “So he actually said, ‘No, thank you,’ to Hollywood.”
Lejtes was foremost a patriot and made films celebrating Polish identity. He cast Zacharewicz in 1934’s Mlody Las (Young Forest) as a turn-of-the-century Polish student opposing the rule of Imperial Russia. It won him his first acting award — at the 1935 Soviet Film Festival in Moscow, where the judges declared him a “pure cinema actor.” Zacharewicz and Lejtes would collaborate again on 1936’s Róza: Set against the Russian revolution, it featured a bearded Zacharewicz playing — in an ominous foreshadowing of events — a Polish freedom fighter betrayed by a confidant and thrown in prison.
Polygon offers a mini oral history of one of cinema’s most nauseating scenes – Augustus Gloop getting sucked out of the chocolate river in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:
[Michael] Bollner: It was a really tough thing because they took about 2 meters’ tube around me and filled it up with water up to my mouth. So I couldn’t move anything. I couldn’t do anything. I just had to rely on the guys that were around me that don’t drop me.
[Peter] Ostrum: Looking back, that scene probably wasn’t OSHA approved.
Emily VanDerWerff writes for Vox about Hugo nominee Isabel Fall whose controversial story stirred an online kerfuffle, ending in a rather literal cancellation of person, though not in the way anybody realized:
“Attack Helicopter” ended up stuck in a feedback loop, as cis people circulated takes skewed toward bad-faith readings of Fall’s story, in the name of supporting trans people. “Attack Helicopter” went from a story that people were debating, to a story that was perceived as one trans people had a few qualms with, to one that was perceived as actively harming trans people, almost entirely because of how Twitter functions. Once a Twitter conversation takes off like this, it becomes very difficult to stop, which leads to stranger and stranger levels of binary thinking and gatekeeping. I found two tweets posted within hours of each other where one insisted Fall must be a cis man and the other insisted she must be a cis woman. Both were sure she was mocking trans people.