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Daily Reads: Hollywood's Untapped Audience, an Illustrated Richard Linklater Interview and More

Criticwire By Max O'Connell | Criticwire August 4, 2014 at 9:32AM

Plus: women prevailing in Hollywood despite sexism, and why both fanboys and The Village Voice are wrong.
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'Before Midnight'
'Before Midnight'

Criticwire's Daily Reads brings today's essential news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. Hollywood's Untapped Audience. Comic book movies and blockbusters still reign supreme as the most popular movies in the country, but they're still not representing their biggest fans. While the films play directly to white men, the audience that's turning out to close to everything is actually made up of Hispanic women, who rarely show up as major characters in the films. The recent "Hercules" at least gave the world a multiracial actor in a role traditionally played by white men, so it's time more blockbusters cast outside the majority.

If Hispanic women can believe in Hugh Jackman in "X-Men" or Aaron Taylor-Johnston in "Godzilla," why is Hollywood so insistent that a white American man paying for a movie ticket remains so incapable of seeing himself in a character of a different ethnic background? Don't Disney, Time Warner, Sony and Viacom know that everyone who doesn't look like Chris Hemsworth can at least identify with Chris Hemsworth? Read more.

2. Richard Linklater, Illustrated. In 2001, Richard Linklater made revolutionary use of rotoscoping technology on his film "Waking Life," using the animation technique not to achieve a realistic effect, but to find something dreamlike, something several steps removed from reality. The Washington Post's Michael Cavna decided to match that effect in his recent interview with Linklater about his new film "Boyhood," turning a piece of reporting into a piece of illustrated artwork. Read more.

Richard Linklater Illustrated
Richard Linklater Illustrated


3. The Good Ministers of the Silver Screen. 

It's not uncommon for religious leaders to be portrayed as unscrupulous, even venal on film (Paul Dano in "There Will Be Blood" is a favorite); it's not uncalled for, but it can often come off as smugly dismissive of the religious when handled poorly ("Salvation Boulevard" being the nadir). Alissa Wilkinson has already written about the new film "Calvary," which deals with Brendan Gleeson's flawed but decent priest, but she spoke with a number of ministers about the best portrayals of the clergy onscreen.
Father Quintana (Javier Bardem) quietly suffers through a crisis of faith in Malick's "To the Wonder", but by the movie's end, he remains frocked and at home within the Church. As other characters question their commitments to one another in order to pursue pleasures and fulfillment elsewhere, Quintana holds fast to his vocation, even when it seems as though God has disappeared from his life and absconded with his hope. Father Quintana is drawn to resemble other fathers faithful in their suffering; Father Latour from Willa Cather's "Death Comes for the Archbishop" comes to mind as a clear literary ancestor. May many more follow in their lineage. Read more.


4. Women Prevail in Industry Despite Sexism. It's no secret that to join an industry as male-dominant as the movies, women frequently face discrimination and harassment. The number of women working as composers, sound editors or designers, or effects supervisors (among other occupations) compared to men is still well below 10% in each area. Things are getting better, thankfully, though women are still better represented on indie film productions than in Hollywood.

Today, only two of Hollywood’s major studios are run by women — Sony Pictures’ Amy Pascal and Universal’s Donna Langley. DreamWorks’ CEO Stacey Snider, who previously oversaw Universal Pictures and was president of TriStar Pictures, is expected to help lead another studio when she goes to work for 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos as soon as her DreamWorks contract expires at year end. [Production sound mixer Mary Jo] Devenney says the issue isn’t that men get paid more on a particular movie, but that women are better represented on lower-budget, lower-paying jobs, and struggle to get hired on the more richly compensated, blockbuster productions. “That’s the glass ceiling,” she says. 

Read more.

5. Both Fanboys and The Village Voice Are Wrong. Last week saw one of the most egregious examples of superhero movie fans going too far with their demand that everyone love the things they love, as commenters on Stephanie Zacharek's negative "Guardians of the Galaxy" review referred to her as a "harlot," among other things. The Village Voice editor Alan Scherstuhl took the commenters to task for it, but Technology Tell's Bill Gibron thinks Scherstuhl's response isn't actually helping any. Gibron believes that responding to it with a "self-congratulatory" article that picks apart the worst comments, rather than doing away with or moderating comment sections, is only feeding the egos of the commenters and bringing pageviews to the Village Voice, all at the expense of the critic it's trying to help.

Indeed, by highlighting the offensive comments made and then creating a (arguably snide) commentary around them, the publication plays the same game as the anonymous a-holes who apparently love the sound of their own uninformed voice blathering on. You don’t want someone like Ms. Zacharek being demeaned by a bunch of basement-dwelling basket cases? Do away with your comment section – or better still, moderate them to, hopefully, avoid such slander. Of course, the 800 lb elephant in the room is that both the ‘Voice’ and their critics want their cyber dust-up celebrated. It gives the “fanboys” a feeling of importance while serving both the business model and the bottom line of the publication’s online. Read more.


6. Hawke N' Talk. When one thinks of lengthy monologues given while a character is in motion, they usually think of the rat-a-tat rhythms of Aaron Sorkin delivered Martin Sheen or one of his "The West Wing" characters. They don't necessarily think of slacker idol and frequent Richard Linklater collaborator Ethan Hawke. Yet the Hawke 'N Talk is as distinctive as the Walk and Talk, writes Yahoo Movies' Ethan Alter, and he went through the history of Hawke bouncing from subject to subject as he strolls along.

"Before Sunset" (2004)
Hawke’s Alter Ego: Slightly older American abroad, Jesse.
Topic: The intractability of peoples’ personalities, despite good or bad circumstances.
Listener: Julie Delpy’s cynical Celine.
Location: An elevated Parisian garden path.
Key Line(s): "People don’t want to admit it, but we have these main set points and nothing much that happens to us changes our disposition."
Does It Go the Distance? Hawke’s ruminations on the human condition are always gold, mainly because it always sounds like he just barely understands what he’s talking about (but doing an expert job faking it). We’d love to see the source of the “study” he offers up as proof to a skeptical Celine. Read more.


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