44 stories
·
1 follower

Steven Moffat's New Dracula Miniseries Is Going to Be a Period Piece

io9
1 Share

Sherlock creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ long-awaited Dracula miniseries is finally happening, and the BBC is partnering with Netflix to make it a reality. And here’s the best part: Oh yeah, it’s a period piece.

Read more...

Read the whole story
TimidWerewolf
8 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

Don Siegel’s ‘The Shootist’ and the Problem of John Wayne

1 Share

Reviews / June 22, 2018

The Shootist
Directed by Don Siegel
Paramount Pictures, 1976

The Shootist is one of the greatest Westerns ever made, although it is rarely named as such. It is John Wayne’s final film, and possibly his best performance. Wayne, of course, essentially invented the on-screen American cowboy: swaggering, gritty, terse, self-contained, charming, relentless, invincible. Under the direction of John Ford, he became an icon in short order, a masculine ideal across several generations, and came to define the mythology of the America frontier, rooted as it is in the puritanical doctrine of Manifest Destiny. The Shootist, in a way, contains the entire genre within itself: in the opening montage, which uses footage of Wayne throughout his 50-year career, we learn of the famously violent deeds of aging gunfighter John Bernard “J.B.” Books, who voices his credo: “I won’t be wronged; I won’t be insulted; I won’t be laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” The year is 1901, and Books has come to a modernizing Carson City to confirm what he already knows: that he is dying.

After getting the painful details from his old friend Doc Hostetler (James Stewart, who starred with Wayne in 1962’s canonical The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), Books seeks a comfortable place to spend his final days. He finds it, kind of, in a boarding house run by widow Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) and her son, Gillom (Ron Howard). Proper, God-fearing Bond is more than a match for Books’ prickliness, and the two eventually develop a mutual understanding. Gillom, himself a hothead and aspiring gunslinger, soon finds out that his idol is staying in his house. Others sniff out the news in short order: the opportunistic Marshal (Harry Morgan) who can’t wait for Books to die and tells him so; a shifty reporter (Richard Lenz) who proposes to write a series of articles embellishing Books’ life; an ex-girlfriend (Sheree North) who wants to marry Books and get rich off his name; the undertaker (John Carradine) who tries to sell him a burial and grave “befitting [his] status”; and, of course, young guns shooting for the title, and old enemies with a score to settle. The only stranger who doesn’t take advantage of Books is the blacksmith, Moses (Scatman Crothers): the scene in which the two seasoned men haggle for the price of Books’ horse is a highlight of the film.

As Westerns go, The Shootist is terribly, deliberately quiet—at one point, I heard Bond smile. The shots that are fired, when they arrive, become that much more jarring and gruesome. Wayne was 69 at time of filming, and Bacall was 51. The two had previously starred together in the sea adventure Blood Alley (1955), and they are mesmerizing here. There is no kissing or wooing or nonsense, only two withdrawn adults who have lived hard, tragic lives, and who recognize in each other the will to survive, though they have little else in common. “I don’t believe I ever killed a man that [sic] didn’t deserve it,” Books tells her while out on their lone buggy ride. “Surely only the Lord can judge that,” Bond coolly replies. Every movement made by Books is a movement of pain. His only respite is a bottle of laudanum, which he swigs from liberally and openly as his suffering becomes increasingly unendurable. We hear his labored breathing continuously, his grunts as he lowers himself down onto a special pillow. (Books has prostate cancer; Wayne himself had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 1964, and his left lung was removed. He died in 1979 of stomach cancer.) Although Wayne was obsessive about maintaining his virile and larger-than-life image—he made changes to the script of The Shootist in this regard—he is as vulnerable as he would ever be in this picture. “I’m a dying man scared of the dark,” he tells Bond, after killing a trio of would-be assassins in his room. There is none of this in 1969’s True Grit, the film that overshadows The Shootist as the peak of Wayne’s late career, and for which Wayne won his only Academy Award.

The Western as a eulogy on the passing of both the Old West and the Western itself was already an established subgenre at this point, and The Shootist, adapted from the 1975 novel by Glendon Swarthout, certainly belongs in this camp. What makes the film different, and special, is that it seems to rebuke the kind of brash, violent man Wayne spent his career playing. When Books decides that he is not going to let the cancer kill him, he arranges for three of his nemeses to meet him at the local saloon. Wayne is alive at the end of the shootout, but badly wounded. The sneaking bartender shoots him in the back, and Gillom, who has just arrived on the scene, picks up Books’ gun and kills the bartender. Books had told Gillom during a shooting lesson that “will,” above all else, is what it takes to be a great gunfighter, and we find out that Gillom has exactly that. But the young man is disgusted by what he’s done, and throws the gun across the room, rejecting the life that brought Books to such an inglorious end. Books smiles, finding peace in the broken cycle of violence, and dies. The cowboy-vigilante character, however, was just getting started in American cinema: The Shootist‘s director, Don Siegel, had trotted out a new breed in 1971 with his Dirty Harry, trading the Wild West setting for the disintegrating American inner city. (Clint Eastwood’s role was initially offered to Frank Sinatra, who turned it down because of a broken arm; John Wayne was the second choice, and he rejected the offer for that reason.) The rogue genre blossomed in the ’80s, a deliberate throwback to the Western.

The seemingly coincidental details surrounding The Shootist—that Wayne was having a hard time finding parts at the time because of his age, that he had had cancer, that he was obviously ailing, that it ended up being his final film, that in almost every way he was the American Western, that the 1960s had swept away so many of the “traditional values” he represented—make it a somewhat mythic experience, as befits a genre that is really a mythic stage upon which morality plays are endlessly waged, where rough-hewn men and women struggle to survive in the “wild country,” long before our every move was measured and dictated by the bureaucratic minutia of technocratic civilization.

The problem with John Wayne, and by extension the cinematic representation of the Old West, is that many of the “old ways” they enshrine are evil. Wayne was an avowed white supremacist, and white supremacy lurks at the heart of many a Western—perhaps most. What is Manifest Destiny but cover for and vindication of the continued dislocation, subjugation, and extermination of people deemed too dark and too savage—too inhuman—to deserve liberty. And while the Western as an art form is flexible enough to confront and at times subvert these evils, Wayne was not. Like Books, he could not satisfy the requirements of the credo he claimed to live by: both men quite brazenly wronged, insulted, and laid hands on people who had done them no harm, and both men got what they deserved: for Books, a violent death at the point of a gun; for Wayne, a legacy beyond repair.

K.E. Roberts





Read the whole story
TimidWerewolf
112 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

Harlan Ellison was TV’s rejected son—and its harshest, most hopeful critic

io9
1 Share

Spend a few minutes looking through the IMDB credits for Harlan Ellison—the legendary science fiction writer and master of the cranky poisoned pen who died last week—and it doesn’t take long for hints of his frequently fractious relationship with film and television to leak through. Outside of his long and fruitful…

Read more...

Read the whole story
TimidWerewolf
112 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

The Cry Closet

1 Share
Installed last month at the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library. A sign hanging on it explained: "A Safe Place for Stressed Out Students. Otherwise known as The Cry Closet. This space is meant to provide a place for students studying for finals to take a short 10-minute break."

An art project, of course. Created by graduating senior Nemo Miller. (More info).

It obviously struck a nerve because this thing got a huge amount of media attention.



Read the whole story
TimidWerewolf
147 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

The United States of Guns

2 Comments and 9 Shares

Like many of you, I read the news of a single person killing at least 10 people in Santa Fe, Texas today. While this is an outrageous and horrifying event, it isn’t surprising or shocking in any way in a country where more than 33,000 people die from gun violence each year.

America is a stuck in a Groundhog Day loop of gun violence. We’ll keep waking up, stuck in the same reality of oppression, carnage, and ruined lives until we can figure out how to effect meaningful change. I’ve collected some articles here about America’s dysfunctional relationship with guns, most of which I’ve shared before. Change is possible — there are good reasons to control the ownership of guns and control has a high likelihood of success — but how will our country find the political will to make it happen?

An armed society is not a free society:

Arendt offers two points that are salient to our thinking about guns: for one, they insert a hierarchy of some kind, but fundamental nonetheless, and thereby undermine equality. But furthermore, guns pose a monumental challenge to freedom, and particular, the liberty that is the hallmark of any democracy worthy of the name — that is, freedom of speech. Guns do communicate, after all, but in a way that is contrary to free speech aspirations: for, guns chasten speech.

This becomes clear if only you pry a little more deeply into the N.R.A.’s logic behind an armed society. An armed society is polite, by their thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

We’re sacrificing America’s children to “our great god Gun”:

Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains — “besmeared with blood” and “parents’ tears.” They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily — sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Roger Ebert on the media’s coverage of mass shootings:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

Jill Lepore on the United States of Guns:

There are nearly three hundred million privately owned firearms in the United States: a hundred and six million handguns, a hundred and five million rifles, and eighty-three million shotguns. That works out to about one gun for every American. The gun that T. J. Lane brought to Chardon High School belonged to his uncle, who had bought it in 2010, at a gun shop. Both of Lane’s parents had been arrested on charges of domestic violence over the years. Lane found the gun in his grandfather’s barn.

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five.

A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths:

The only guns that Japanese citizens can legally buy and use are shotguns and air rifles, and it’s not easy to do. The process is detailed in David Kopel’s landmark study on Japanese gun control, published in the 1993 Asia Pacific Law Review, still cited as current. (Kopel, no left-wing loony, is a member of the National Rifle Association and once wrote in National Review that looser gun control laws could have stopped Adolf Hitler.)

To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don’t forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.

Australia’s gun laws stopped mass shootings and reduced homicides, study finds:

From 1979 to 1996, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths was rising at 2.1% per year. Since then, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths has been declining by 1.4%, with the researchers concluding there was no evidence of murderers moving to other methods, and that the same was true for suicide.

The average decline in total firearm deaths accelerated significantly, from a 3% decline annually before the reforms to a 5% decline afterwards, the study found.

In the 18 years to 1996, Australia experienced 13 fatal mass shootings in which 104 victims were killed and at least another 52 were wounded. There have been no fatal mass shootings since that time, with the study defining a mass shooting as having at least five victims.

From The Onion, ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens:

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

But America is not Australia or Japan. Dan Hodges said on Twitter a few years ago:

In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.

This can’t be the last word on guns in America. We have to do better than this for our children and everyone else whose lives are torn apart by guns. But right now, we are failing them miserably, and Hodges’ words ring with the awful truth that all those lives and our diminished freedom & equality are somehow worth it to the United States as a society.

Tags: guns   USA
Read the whole story
TimidWerewolf
155 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete
2 public comments
tedgould
129 days ago
reply
Collection of articles about gun violence in America. I find especially interesting the idea that gun rights effectively lower the value of freedom of speech.
Texas, USA
cjheinz
157 days ago
reply
#gunsense

Devilish bare shoulders in the early 1900s (For more info, visit...

1 Share


Devilish bare shoulders in the early 1900s (For more info, visit Old Time Religion; For a related post, click here http://christiannightmares.tumblr.com/post/152127296756/the-sin-of-lying-awesome-vintage-christian-tract)

Read the whole story
TimidWerewolf
168 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories