Yes, there are two paths you can go by

For reasons that are not clear to me, my YouTube main page 'recommended' this video of Dolly Parton covering "Stairway to Heaven." I'm glad that it did. To be sure, I did not expect when I woke up this morning to spend my afternoon listening on repeat to Dolly Parton singing "Stairway to Heaven." I didn't know that she had covered "Stairway to Heaven," and I don't even especially like Led Zeppelin, but I like this very much, and sometimes the Internet is remarkable.


A Twitter troll may now be the Most Powerful Person in the World, but at least the Holy See sees through the soul-crushing bullshit.


Things I'm interested in: Jordan Peele/Get Out, Russell Westbrook, Kristen Stewart. Things The Ringer has good, new articles on: Jordan Peele/Get Out, Russell Westbrook, Kristen Stewart. Bill Simmons & Co. are essentially Santa for adults who like reading about pop-culture and sports.



With all the praise and recognition bestowed on Moonlight (which, again, I think is a good movie, and I'm happy it won the Oscar), why did Céline Sciamma's Girlhood, a superior filmic Bildungsroman, pass by almost unnoticed?


Should win/Will win
Jackie image

Always fun. (I've also updated my would-be Oscar ballot and my general 2016 lists to reflect late viewings, especially Pablo Lorraín's superlative pop-historical phantasmagoria, Jackie, about which I plan to write something soon.)

Should win: La La Land
Will win: La La Land
From a cultural/political standpoint, I'm pulling for Moonlight, but La La Land is the better movie.

Should win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should win: Natalie Portman, Jackie
Will win: Emma Stone, La La Land
I prefer Portman in Jackie by a hair over Huppert in Elle, but if Huppert were nominated for Things to Come (better performance and better film than Elle) it'd go the other way around.

Should win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Denzel Washington, Fences
If Andrew Garfield were up for Silence, he'd be my pick. (I didn't see Hacksaw Ridge.)

Should win: Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Viola Davis, Fences
Davis is extraordinary in Fences, to be sure, but such egregious "category fraud" is really unfair to true supporting performances, like Williams' sparingly used, affecting turn in Manchester by the Sea.

Should win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Will win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Should win: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Will win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Is there any significant difference between August Wilson's theatrical script and the screenplay for Fences? Absent close inspection, there doesn't seem to be, which is why I'll go with Moonlight instead, from among this group. But how was Whit Stillman not nominated here?! His translation of Austen's epistolary Lady Susan into the fleshed-out (and thoroughly terrific) Love and Friendship is the most impressive example of adaptation in recent memory.

Should win: Rodrigo Prieto, Silence
Will win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land
At least Scorsese's masterpiece is up for something.

Should win: Mica Levi, Jackie
Will win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
I've only included this category here so that I can "vote" for that crazy, indelible Jackie score.
Sister, Sister

Solange interviewed by Beyoncé is a must-read. Some wonderful, excerptible moments:

BEYONCÉ: Your voice on the album, the tone of your voice, the vulnerability in your voice and in your arrangements, the sweetness and the honesty and purity in your voice—what inspired you to sing in that tone?

SOLANGE: It was very intentional that I sang as a woman who was very in control, a woman who could have this conversation without yelling and screaming, because I still often feel that when black women try to have these conversations, we are not portrayed as in control, emotionally intact women, capable of having the hard conversations without losing that control.


SOLANGE: Well, I find a lot of similarities in Master P and our dad.

BEYONCÉ: Me, too. [laughs]


BEYONCÉ: What are some misconceptions about being a strong woman?

SOLANGE: Oh my God, they're endless! [laughs] One thing that I constantly have to fight against is not feeling arrogant when I say I wrote every lyric on this album. I still have not been able to say that. That's the first time I've actually ever said it, because of the challenges that we go through when we celebrate our work and our achievements. I remember Björk saying that she felt like, no matter what stage in her career, if a man is credited on something that she's done, he's going to get the credit for it. And, unfortunately, that still rings true. It's something I've learned so much about from you, getting to be in control of your own narrative. And, at this point, it should be an expectation, not something that you're asking permission for. I feel like I'm getting closer to that, not taking on all the baggage when I have to just stand up for myself and say, "No, I'm uncomfortable with that." And I really appreciate you and mom being examples of that, being able to speak about our achievements, these things that deserve to be celebrated, without feeling bashful about it.


BEYONCÉ: What is the funniest text you got from our mom this week? [both laugh] That's too personal, never mind. You've got to love Mama Tina. How does it feel to have the dopest wedding photo of all time?

SOLANGE: Oh my God, that is subjective!

BEYONCÉ: What makes you laugh the hardest?

SOLANGE: The Real Housewives of Atlanta, hands-down.

BEYONCÉ: Really?! I didn't know that.





This feels like it happened many, many years ago. How weird this memory must be now for Sia (and for Mini Nishimura, the interpretive dancer)!
In another great contribution to her "10+ Years Later" column, Teresa Nieman revisits Miike's Audition, directly pinpointing what's still so frightfully good about the film (namely, its slow-build creepiness and uneasy mood) and also what seems decidedly less jolting than it did a decade and a half ago.


This is repugnant. How many people are going to suffer and die because of this megalomaniacal scumbag's racism and paranoia?


Beyoncé, Solange, etc.

Pazz & Jop results came out today, and I find myself more in agreement with the critical consensus than in most recent years. (I mainly stand by my ballot, submitted a month ago, but if I'd sent it in today the Ariana Grande album would be higher and Nelly Furtado's "Pipe Dreams," which I hadn't heard yet, would be on the singles list.) Such a great cover, too! It's just too bad that neither Beyoncé nor Solange quite managed to win the albums poll. David Bowie was great, fine, but I agree with Dan Weiss's remark that, "If this [i.e., Lemonade] couldn't score the first album win by a woman of color in the 43rd or 44th year of this poll, what could?" I wish my own published comments - on A Seat at the Table and "Formation" - were as pithy and dead-on.


La La Land, Isabelle Huppert, etc.
la la land_2

Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and, really, this year I can't quibble too much, at least in terms of what was reasonably presumed to be possible. I was hoping Scorsese would make it in for what is in my view his greatest film, but I also expected that Silence would be too rigorous/religious (religorous?) for Academy tastes. And Tom Hanks keeps being weirdly ignored for the work he's doing of late, which is so much better than his earlier, over-awarded work back in the 90s. But I'm really pleased to see Isabelle Huppert nominated (even if I prefer her less showy Things to Come performance), and La La Land is a perfectly worthy juggernaut as such things go.

If I were to create a ballot drawing only from Oscar-eligible films (so, no 2016 festival releases that didn't open commercially last year, e.g., A Quiet Passion, Life after Life, The Death of Louis XIV, Personal Shopper, and so on and so forth), it would look like this:

The Witch
La La Land

Martin Scorsese, Silence
Robert Eggers, The Witch
Pablo Lorraín, Jackie
Terence Davies, Sunset Song
Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Isabelle Huppert, Things to Come
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Kate Beckinsale, Love and Friendship
Sandra Hüller, Toni Erdmann

Andrew Garfield, Silence
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Adam Driver, Paterson
Mark Rylance, The BFG
Tom Hanks, Sully

Goldshifteh Farahani, Paterson
Lily Gladstone, Certain Women
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Imogen Poots, Green Room
Kate Dickie, The Witch

John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
John Travolta, In a Valley of Violence
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Tom Bennett, Love and Friendship


Dignitas non moritur
EKa_Lerner bio

This is without a doubt one of the best and most engrossing biographies I've ever read; it contributes to, and deepens, my appreciation of Kantorowicz, while painting him in several new (or much more nuanced) lights. It's also the rare biography of a writer/scholar/artist that is equally attentive to the subject's life and his work, suggesting perceptive connections between the two but not overdetermining or forcing those connections.

Attn. filmmakers/screenwriters: Kantorowicz's singular life-story would make an excellent movie or miniseries! Read the Introduction to Robert Lerner's book here.


I just had the following pop up as a notification from the Washington Post:

Nigerian military accidentally bombs camp for those fleeing Boko Haram, killing at least 50 people, including aid workers

Jesus! The word "accidentally" just makes it more horrible, and horrifying.

Do you ever pause to think, why do some of us get live our lives in relative safety and security and other people get "accidentally" killed by bombs dropped by the Nigerian military?

And our biggest worry is the inauguration of an asshole, while such "accidents" blip by across our digital radar screens...


Singles: 2016

01. Beyoncé - "Formation"

02. A Tribe Called Quest - "We the People..."

03. Rihanna - "Love on the Brain"

04. Blood Orange - "Augustine"

05. Ariana Grande - "Into You"

06. Angel Olsen - "Shut Up Kiss Me"

07. Solange - "Cranes in the Sky"

08. Mitski - "Your Best American Girl"

09. Nelly Furtado - "Pipe Dreams"

10. Kanye West - "Famous"


Teresa Nieman came up with a very promising idea for a column -- revisiting a film we once loved, and still claim/think we love, but haven't actually seen in ten or more years -- and authored its debut piece, this sharp reappraisal of The Matrix.


Cinema—if you can keep it...
As I note, I submitted this best-of with a few remarks to the Senses of Cinema poll before its deadline and thus before getting the opportunity to see Silence (to my tastes, Scorsese's greatest film), La La Land, and some others; the one here, posted below and on the side, is more accurate/up-to-date. In any case, though: what an exceptionally terrific year for movies!


2016: 40 films, 20 albums

01. Silence (Scorsese)
02. The Witch (Eggers)
03. A Quiet Passion (Davies)
04. Sunset Song (Davies)
05. La La Land (Chazelle)
06. Weiner (Kriegman/Steinberg)
07. Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience (Malick)
08. Life after Life (Zhang)
09. The Death of Louis XIV (Serra)
10. Personal Shopper (Assayas)

11. Paterson (Jarmusch)
12. Things to Come (Hansen-Løve)
13. Manchester by the Sea (Lonergan)
14. Knight of Cups (Malick)
15. Sieranevada (Puiu)
16. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Trachtenberg)
17. What’s in the Darkness (Wang)
18. The BFG (Spielberg)
19. Sully (Eastwood)
20. Never Eat Alone (Bohdanowicz)

21. Elle (Verhoeven)
22. Green Room (Saulnier)
23. Our Love Story (Lee)
24. Yourself and Yours (Hong)
25. Toni Erdmann (Ade)
26. Moonlight (Jenkins)
27. Under the Shadow (Anvari)
28. Lights above Water (Lachappelle/Lamoureux)
29. Maliglutit (Kunuk)
30. In a Valley of Violence (West)

31. Florence Foster Jenkins (Frears)
32. Creepy (Kurosawa)
33. The Invitation (Kusama)
34. Werewolf (McKenzie)
35. The Unknown Girl (Dardenne/Dardenne)
36. The Secret Life of Pets (Renaud/Cheney)
37. Kubo and the Two Strings (Knight)
38. A Copy of My Mind (Anwar)
39. Gimme Danger (Jarmusch)
40. The Priests (Jang)


solange_A Seat at the Table

01. Solange – A Seat at the Table
02. Beyoncé – Lemonade
03. PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project
04. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
05. Kristin Kontrol - X-Communicate
06. Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion Side B
07. Rihanna – Anti
08. Drive-by Truckers - American Band
09. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
10. Mitski - Puberty 2

11. A Tribe Called Quest - We Got it from Here...Thank You 4 Your Service
12. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
13. Angel Olsen - My Woman
14. Miranda Lambert - The Weight of These Wings
15. Sia – This Is Acting
16. Anohni – Hopelessness
17. Young Thug - Jeffery
18. The Avalanches – Wildflower
19. Britney Spears – Glory
20. The Paranoid Style - Rolling Disclosure