This Week You Will Test the Possibilities of:
- watching movies blind
- Gerard Butler
- wrestling personas
- videogame adaptations
- reading syllabi
- the good ol’ World Wide Web.
Thanks to soaring contributions from scb0212 for this week. Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past below for discussion, and Have a Happy Friday!
At The Ringer, Adam Nayman lauds Gerard Butler as guardian of a certain type of film:
Here’s the thing about clichés: A lot of the time, they work. And at 53, Butler has made a pretty nice career out of bending them to his will. In 2019, Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri wrote that the Scottish-born actor—a former law student who broke into the London theater scene in the mid-’90s through sheer force of will before his break in Dracula 2000—was “almost single-handedly keeping a very specific type of movie alive.” While the vast majority of action stars yearn to cross over to other genres, Butler stoically stays in his lane. He’s made the odd romantic comedy, dabbled in period pieces and Shakespeare, and even taken a turn as a brooding show-tune jukebox in Joel Schumacher’s unfortunate big-screen adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera—an early role that nearly torpedoed his momentum before it even got going. But other than those outliers, Butler has been content to cultivate a very particular sweet spot: a rumpled, two-fisted charisma that evokes a whole host of other above-the-title names (Ebiri mentioned Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, and Liam Neeson as analogues) while retaining a sort of journeyman’s modesty. If he’s prone to going over the top, it’s usually due less to show-offy technique than to a tendency to be cast as guys with short fuses. It’s just fun to watch him go off.
Kathi Wolfe writes at the New York Times about what watching movies taught her, though she’s legally blind:
Yes, a lot of the time I can’t tell what weapon is used in a murder mystery or the size of the engagement ring a lover has hidden in his beloved’s dessert. But the sheer experience of film is what I love — the sense of images moving across the screen as we move through space and time. And because movies are on a big screen, with close-ups of lovers, musical numbers, battles and street scenes, I’m able to view what I otherwise rarely can.
At The Wrap, Lucas Manfredi reports on studios taking a new look at videogame adaptation, despite shaky results in the past:
Even with successful adaptations like “The Witcher” and “Arcane,” many still hold the belief it’s impossible for a video-game adaptation to rise to prestige TV level — the so-called “video game adaptation curse.” But on Jan. 15, HBO’s adaptation of Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed video game “The Last of Us” premieres with the goal of breaking the curse once and for all and prove that the medium can be a part of the genre-leaning prestige television circle dominated by shows like “Game of Thrones,” “House of the Dragon,” “Westworld” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” So far, “The Last of Us” has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, with some lauding it as “the best video game adaptation ever made” and “the beginning of a new era for live-action video game adaptations.” But it remains to be seen whether “The Last of Us” will resonate just as favorably among audiences.
Dan Brooks at the New York Times Magazine profiles Danhausen, a barista-turned-pro wrestler who made his career thanks to comedy rather than athleticism:
The room has that quiet sound that bedevils any show in front of a very small audience, but Danhausen is fully committed. Pretty Boy Smooth is the larger man, and at one point Danhausen tries to pick him up and just can’t. It’s a pleasing gag — not just the sight of Danhausen struggling to lift him, cartoon style, but also knowing that he is faking struggling, really selling it, heaving himself against the other man’s weight with his hands immobile. Of all the unlikely things wrestlers do with their bodies, you never see them do anything like this — this Buster Keaton physical language of mundane frustration. You look at it and think, That’s how it would go for me, if I wound up in there.
The Pudding looks at the most-assigned literature from the 80s, 90s and 00s and the book’s popularity status in its time:
In 1951, Pulitzer Prize-winning The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk, began its historic run of 2.5 years as a New York Times Best Seller. Around the same time, Catcher in the Rye would spend 7 months as a New York Times Best Seller as well. But today, Catcher in the Rye is widely assigned by educators, wich might ruprise 190s literary scholars, as the book was neither the most-awarded or widely-read of the era. There are countless examples of Caine Mutinies: a mega-popular book that eventually enters obscurity. This occurs with all media: few musical hists will be remembered by younger generations. Only a handful of Oscar-winning films will remain classics. Yet with literature, high school and college-assigned readings buoy a book that would otherwise fade into obscurity.
And at his newsletter “Meditations in an Emergency,” Rosecrans Baldwin tries to describe the Internet:
What I find beautiful about the internet is its immensity paired with the invisibility. Sky is blue, air is cold, internet is all around. As of 2021, a third of Earth’s population hadn’t touched it yet, a figure I don’t find staggering but impressive, considering the internet’s relatively recent adoption. How long did it take two-thirds of the planet to touch a car? The internet is a network of networks, a society. How long until it’s sentient, how long until it produces a religion? Perhaps it did and we don’t acknowledge ourselves as members.