Read On is a regular feature in which The Dissolve’s staff recommends recent film pieces. Because there’s always someone writing something notable about the movies somewhere on the Internet.
The Guardian’s Gabriel Baumgaertner asks: Where are the main figures of Hoop Dreams now?
“Arthur Agee: The spindly, smiley guard who starts the film going one-on-one with Thomas at a St Joe’s basketball camp and ends it captaining the underdog Marshall Commandos to the Illinois state tournament semi-finals, Agee would play two years at Mineral Area junior college in Park Hills, Missouri before playing two years at Division I Arkansas State. Agee never made the NBA, but played semi-professionally and briefly dabbled in Slamball. He passed up a tryout with the CBA’s Connecticut Pride to take a speaking role in the made-for-television film Passing Glory (which James directed), but later admitted that he regretted the decision. Agee has said in interviews that the film served as both a ‘blessing and a curse,’ but lauds it for helping him move his family out of the West Garfield projects and providing him opportunities after its release. He even started a Hoop Dreams clothing line in the mid-2000s with the slogan ‘Control Your Destiny.’ Agee now has five children and still lives in the Chicago area. He started the Arthur Agee Jr foundation and works as a motivational speaker for inner-city youth.”
Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri wants Hollywood to stop making so many biopics:
“Biopics are endemic to Hollywood. But now they’ve become epidemic. It’s hard to sort out the biopics opening in a given week, let alone a year. And when put together, a kind of sameness starts to emerge. Biopics often have their own rhythm — a certain and-then, and-then, and-then quality — and they turn on a kind of predictability. We know, for example, that very often they’re leading to a big speech, or a big historical denouement, with obligatory nods to other historical or biographical details along the way, even if those details are irrelevant to the ostensible plot. (An example: Selma has a touching scene that briefly references Martin Luther King Jr.’s extramarital affairs. Do we need it? Who knows? But if it wasn’t there, a certain part of the pundit peanut brigade would accuse the film of being a whitewash — even though King’s dalliances are largely irrelevant to the events in Selma. If the film was a purely fictional story, a reference like this would seem very tonally strange. But because Selma is historical, we don’t mind it.) Many of our biopics — even the good ones — now feel strangely like entries in a broad, vague franchise: this year’s variation on the brilliant scientist, or the famous musician, or the military hero, or the political figure.”
The New York Times’ David Leonhard looks at the Oscars through the lens of the betting markets:
“There are several reasons that the Academy Awards are almost an ideal subject for prediction markets. The awards happen every year, with the same categories, allowing bettors to learn from the past. The Oscars are preceded by a series of other prizes, like the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which offer a kind of test run for bettors’ views. The outcome is also knowable in advance, at least hypothetically. It is based on human decisions — the votes of Academy members — that have already been made. By contrast, a political campaign or a sports contest, two other types of events that are the subject of prediction markets, involve more random chance, like the weather on Election Day or the direction of a bouncing football.”
Movie Mezzanine’s Kyle Turner examines whether the The Imitation Game is a queer film:
“Where does The Imitation Game fit in in all of this? That’s the funny thing. Morten Tyldum’s film occupies an ambiguous limbo, perhaps best described as a film that desperately wants to qualify as queer but doesn’t know how to do it right. Some of the ingredients are there, but they feel half-baked. Alan Turing is gay. We know this because he says some version of ‘I am a homosexual’ half a dozen times in the film. And we understand, based at least on the previous definition from Rich if not the aforementioned examples, that saying it isn’t enough. We have a backstory to Turing’s life, which informs the audience of the character’s budding sexual identity; he fosters a close relationship with a schoolboy named Christopher. And we know the relationship walks the line of the queer film. It’s the following aspects that particularly seem like they could qualify the film, but their execution hinders it. (Essentially, the film gets a gold star for effort and nothing more.)”
Plus, the rest of today’s biz-ness:
- Here’s the last trailer for Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s Focus
- Gus Van Sant will direct Jenji Kohan’s Salem Witch Trials pilot for HBO
- There’s an Oscar protest underway by civil rights groups
- Marc Munden is in talks to direct FilmNations’ Aether
- Scarlett Johansson has recorded a single with a girl group called… the Singles
- Piper Perabo has been cast in Wake with Bruce Willis and Ben Kingsley