RogerEbert.com: “A House Made Of Candy: On Despicable Me 2, slapstick and single parenthood” by Matt Zoller Seitz
As noted frequently at the time of his death, there will never be another Roger Ebert. But Ebert’s website, RogerEbert.com, remains a home for fine writing in the spirit of Ebert’s work. Much of that credit should go to Matt Zoller Seitz, the site’s editor-in-chief (who also has another high-profile job as New York magazine’s TV critic). Seitz’s pieces are always must-reads, and this appreciation of the Despicable Me series’ low-key charms is a typically graceful mix of criticism and personal essay that homes in on what Seitz feels is a particular strength of the film: its portrayal of the frustrations and anxieties of single fatherhood.
ThinkProgress and RogerEbert.com: “This Is The End And How To Handle A Rape Joke Effectively” and “War Machines: Summer Blockbusters, Drones, And The Future Of The Action Hero In The Age Of Robot Warfare” by Alyssa Rosenberg
As a culture blogger for ThinkProgress, Alyssa Rosenberg writes some of the smartest and most varied political and cultural commentary around, and she wrote two strong film-related articles in the last week. After finally catching This Is The End over the weekend, Rosenberg dove into the highly sensitive issue of rape jokes, which has become a flashpoint recently between feminist writers like Lindy West and stand-up comedians. Rosenberg credits the “surprisingly effective” rape joke in This Is The End for focusing on the misunderstanding between a group of men trying to respect a female refugee (Emma Watson), her likely feelings of vulnerability, and the threat they inadvertently become to her. And in the RogerEbert.com piece, Rosenberg finds the connections between several of this summer’s blockbusters as they insert themselves into the national conversation about drones and other forms of machine warfare.
Indiewire: “Does It Matter If Women Make Superhero Movies?” by Sam Adams
In the week since replacing Dissolve news editor Matt Singer as editor of the Criticwire blog, Sam Adams (who will be contributing to The Dissolve regularly, too) has picked up where Singer left off with thoughtful, provocative articles about the issues critics are talking about. Pushing back against Susan Wloszczyna’s piece on RogerEbert.com arguing that more women should be hired to direct superhero movies, Adams questions whether “simply substituting a woman at the top of the pyramid will effect real change in the movie industry,” and scoffs at whether the specific directors mentioned (Sarah Polley, Sofia Coppola, Jane Campion, Kasi Lemmons, and Lynne Ramsay among them) would have any interest in superheroes anyway. They all have more artistically ambitious films on the docket.
Slate: “Why Did You Want To Film That?” by Jack Hamilton
The Rolling Stones commissioned photographer Robert Frank to document the band’s 1972 tour, then decided that, given the debauchery he saw, maybe they’d be better off not releasing it. No matter how easy it’s gotten to see via bootleg or online streams, the resulting film, Cocksucker Blues, still has the aura of rumor and legend about it, in part because it can only be legally shown in Frank’s presence (he’s 88 years old now, by the way), or with the band’s express permission. Hamilton’s piece takes a look at it both as a film and as a piece of the Stones story, appreciating it as “a ragged travelogue of debauchery and despair, a work that pulled back the curtain on the Stones’ sex-drugs-and-rock-’n’-roll image to reveal a gaping wound.”