Monday, May 09, 2016

The new manliness (male tears), Miles Teller "Modern Don Juan" video

“The new manliness,” Tom Lutz writes in his Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears, “encouraged men to curb their emotional expression.” Unblushing, heterosexual masculinity was useful for both corporate profit and the decades of combat that would follow the Industrial Revolution. The poet of sensibility gave way to some of the most enduring stereotypes of masculinity: the rugged hyper-individualist, the alienated writer, and the emotionally repressed marketplace man. 

The great irony, of course, is that Don Draper is his own capitalistic invention. The crying man never truly disappeared; he just became subject to market forces and scripts of gender that regulated his excess. Sure, a man could cry over death or a football game, but the tears were subject to a Protestant ethic of gentlemanly restraint. Those who showed too much vulnerable emotion—over the wrong things—were subject to censure, a means of hemming in the ever-shifting, ever-important boundaries of gender. In the twenty-first century, we explore male vulnerability in twenty-first-century ways. Thinkpieces and videos ask no one in particular, “What Makes Men Cry?” 

These pieces are haunted by a phantom—the “real man” who never cries. These paragons of masculinity, the narrative goes, are in need of some emotional release; buying into stereotypes frays at their psyche and hurts their health. But this script can’t be rewritten with dispassionate medical advice; such a massive edit requires a familiar point of departure. Thus, in the language of the Internet, simple actions like manly tears became heroic, and sexualized. Crying men were recast from “wuss” to “badass,” and shedding a few tears could help a bro get laid. Gender, tears, and vulnerability thus found its necessary semantic bridge in sexual heroism.

Miles Teller crying in "Whiplash" (2014)

Crying is inevitably framed as an iconoclastic, damn the man, tear down the establishment kind of act. Yet the crying men ask to retain their establishment potency; they ask for their emotional expression to be seen not as mundane, but heroic. And so traditional masculinity remains both a straw man and an unchallenged, ahistorical script.

Where does this leave women? Women are allowed to cry, the narrative goes—and men should be granted the same cultural permission. But this isn’t exactly true. Women are not allowed to cry as much as they are expected to cry; to be ruled by an excess of emotion and governed by irrational expression rather than rational ideas. The stereotypes are familiar: crazy ex-girlfriends, trainwrecks, the hot mess. Women’s crying is still tethered to its stigmas and stereotypes; men’s tears get to remake themselves, combining vulnerability and potency in ways that are continually validated, continually new. Male tears have been constructed to survive their own critique. 

As male tears abound, it seems worth asking, for whom exactly is the renegotiation of the publicly vulnerable man for? If, as historians of emotions have argued, that the stereotype of the stoic, tearless man was an invention of capitalism, created for the purpose of lining the pockets of industrial tycoons and underpinned by nationalism, then who does the new vulnerability serve? Perhaps some idea of authentic individuality, which is, not coincidentally, what brands want right now too. Vanity Fair jokingly labeled male tears the “hottest trend in movies.” The New Yorker celebrated the vulnerable masculinity depicted on Outlander and The Americans. The script of manhood is being rewritten. Male tears are no longer the mockable stuff of ironic misandry: for the first time ever, masculine vulnerability has the power to sell on a large capitalist scale. Source:

Miles Teller "Modern Don Juan" video.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Sonic Youth's "Spinhead Sessions", "The Spectacular Now" extracts

The rock star thing has always felt dishonest to me—stylized and gestural, even goofy. I’ve always felt uncomfortable giving people what they want or expect. Lydia Lunch just stood there onstage, refusing to move.  “Lydia Lunch is a genius!,” Dan Graham said:  “She is really frigid — see how she doesn’t move her body at all? She doesn’t want to give anything to the audience.” Even though Lydia had a much scarier persona, I could relate to that. Still, I’ve always believed that the radical is far more interesting when it looks benign and ordinary on the outside. I had no idea what image I projected onstage or off, but I was willing to let myself be unknown forever. Self-consciousness was the beginning of creative death to me. As J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. liked to say when asked about being in a band, “It’s not fun. It’s not about having fun.” Bruce Pavitt, who founded the record label Sub Pop, told me that if I liked Mudhoney I’d “love Nirvana.” He added, “Kurt Cobain is like Jesus. People love him. He practically walks on the audience.” —"Girl in a Band" (2015) by Kim Gordon

In 1986, after they released Evol, Sonic Youth worked on the score to Ken Friedman's film Made in U.S.A. Before they finalized the soundtrack, they recorded some rehearsal sessions.  Those recordings, made at a studio called Spinhead, have been collected and are being released this summer. Spinhead Sessions is out June 17 via Goofin'. Source:

"I am a romantic. I am in love with the feminine species. I have to withdraw everything I ever said about this girl not being hot. Without her goofy horse-face Tshirts and the off-brand, baggy-butt jeans, her body is absolutely fabulous. I’m not talking about gaudy curves. It’s more that her skin is so pristine. Alabaster in the glow of the digital clock. “Nudity,” I tell her, “looks awesome on you.” I actually find the movie and her commentary interesting, especially after she hits a couple of vodkas and really starts cranking. It’s one of those movies set in a screwed-up society in the near future. Totalitarianism rules. Half the characters look like refugees from a seventies punk-rock club and the other half look like space Nazis. It’s strange being on her bed in the middle of a room full of sci-fi novels and drawings of Commander Amanda Gallico on horseback."

"You might think it would be the least sexy place in the world, but that’s not the case. Instead, it’s mega-intimate, like we’re alone together in our own little, weird space capsule, hurtling through the universe. “I like you so much,” she says between kisses. And I can tell she wants to say love instead of like, not because she really does love me but because she just wants to say it." —"The Spectacular Now" (2013) by Tim Tharp

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Boxing Films: Bleed for This (Miles Teller), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (Robert Montgomery)

Bleed for This, Miles Teller's boxer biopic, has received a fall release date via Open Road. The Ben Younger-directed feature will have a limited release on Nov. 4, after which it will go wide on Nov. 23. On its wide release date, Bleed for This will be getting in the ring with three other titles over the Thanksgiving holiday. It will be going toe-to-toe with Disney animated pic Moana, Brad Pitt's WWII drama Allied and Billy Bob Thornton holiday film Bad Santa 2.

Bleed for This tells the true story of boxer Vinny Pazienza, who won two world title fights only to be taken down in the prime of his career by a car accident that injured his spine. Trainer Kevin Rooney (played by Aaron Eckhart) works with Vinny to not only get him to walk again, but get him back in the ring. Source:

New Criterion Blu-Ray Release on 14 Jun 2016: A sophisticated supernatural Hollywood comedy whose influence continues to be felt, Here Comes Mr. Jordan stars the eminently versatile Robert Montgomery as a working-class boxer and amateur aviator whose plane crashes in a freak accident. He finds himself in heaven but is told, by a wry angel named Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), that his death was a clerical error, and that he can return to Earth by entering the body of a corrupt (and about-to-be-murdered) financier—whose soul could use a transplant. Nominated for seven Oscars (it won two) and the inspiration for a sequel with Rita Hayworth and two remakes, Alexander Hall’s effervescent Here Comes Mr. Jordan is comic perfection.

-New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
-New conversation between critic Michael Sragow and filmmaker/distributor Michael Schlesinger
-Audio interview from 1991 in which actor Elizabeth Montgomery discusses her father, actor Robert Montgomery
-Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of Here Comes Mr. Jordan from 1942 starring Cary Grant, Claude Rains, Evelyn Keyes, and James Gleason
-PLUS: An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme

Saturday, April 30, 2016

"Two Night Stand", "Brief Encounter" in Blu-ray

Miles revealed on Twitter that his girlfriend Keleigh Sperry had never seen Titanic before they watched it together that day. “‘So, does Jack work on the boat?’ I happen to be dating the one person who has never seen Titanic @keleighsperry,” Source:

Fortunately for all involved, Max Nichols’ Two Night Stand has enough charm, spark, and chemistry to overcome a seemingly cookie-cutter premise. In a spur of the moment decision, Megan (Analeigh Tipton) signs up for a dating site (Megan has some seriously funny answers for even the most banal of questions), desperate to mix things up and dip a toe back into the dating waters. It soon becomes readily apparent that Megan has been in a state of regression for some time – and, yes, she does yell out, “I’m regressing!,” but that’s not nearly as on the nose as it sounds – and something needs to change for her in a big way. The pair exhibit a crisp, quick chemistry, and their interactions are funny and zippy – just what a rom-com needs. The duo bicker and banter, get high, engage in some petty crime, and nearly ruin a bathroom. Source:

Two Night Stand really gets interesting because it’s not tied down by the dumb, supportive best friend, conventions about dating or the unimaginative premise. With the rest of the film taking place almost entirely in Alec’s apartment, viewers join the pair in awkward, uncomfortable and truly laughable situations, finally bringing the audience into a world they can imagine, one where sex isn’t the be-all and end-all.

Alec and Megan decide to correct each other’s sexual techniques for fun and “science,” and though their sex tips could be drafted from a Cosmo article, the banter is believable and the indignation on either side relatable and hilarious. The casting is commendable — it helps that neither of the stars is chiseled, Photoshop-perfect or suave in manner. Viewers might see a little bit of themselves in Tipton’s awkward attempts to learn to sexily undress and Teller’s college boy solution to their problems. Teller is a fantastic leading man, caring without seeming disingenuous, silly without being ridiculous. Source:

Megan takes to the Web for a no-strings hookup: within moments she’s trading nervously chipper banter and cute laptop visuals with Alec (Teller), a similarly uncommitted young fellow who appears to want as little as Megan does from the encounter. A little late in the day, “Two Night Stand” turns into an absorbing dramedy about two bruised souls mustering the nerve to open themselves up to love again. Tipton is sweet and has lovely green eyes. But indie film guys, I beg you, enough with the manic pixie dream girls already. 

Teller is an intelligent young actor who’s been worth watching since his affecting turn opposite Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole.” As Alec, though, he seems not quite in control of the residual smirkiness that he turned to superb advantage as a cocky young alcoholic in “The Spectacular Now.” “Two Night Stand’s” strength lies in the doubts and the ambivalence it expresses about the way we love now. Internet dating, Alec admits once his guard is down, is “a bunch of people sitting around in the dark, texting.” Source:

For all the romances the movies have given us, there are precious few that show two people gradually falling in love. Contemporary rom-coms generally engineer a movie-long feud that builds to a climactic smooch; Nicholas Sparks-style weepies go for insta-passion shorthand, the better to clear the way for whatever ludicrous tragedy its lovers have in store. And that makes sense, really, as the realistic alternative—with ardent feelings accumulating bit by bit over time, in a context devoid of manufactured conflict—seems like it would be too politely dull to endure. All the same, that perfectly describes Brief Encounter, David Lean’s 1945 masterpiece of British restraint and repression, which Criterion has at long last upgraded to a stand-alone Blu-ray title. The sheer helplessness Laura and Alec feel, as they lay the tracks toward that rendezvous, is what makes Brief Encounter so intensely poignant. Source:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sense of Malaise in USA, The Spectacular Now: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley

The Spectacular Now - upon meeting the bookish, slightly naive Aimee Finecky (the radiant-without-makeup Shailene Woodley), Sutter's life is changed and he starts to have real feelings for her. What you begin to notice as the film goes on is that Sutter is always carrying a giant soda cup with him everywhere he goes. And before long we realize that said cup is filled with some type of alcohol. 

What makes the film all the more tragic is that Sutter is so down on himself that he feels the need to bring others down with him, and before long he's got Aimee drinking right along with him. Nothing in The Spectacular Now plays out how you think it will... there are a great number of subtle elements at work. Aimee lets her perfect grades slip a bit, but she doesn't spiral the way Sutter does. He's probably the smartest kid at his school, but his issues with drinking and an absentee dad are contributing to a general sense of malaise. He could be a straight-A student, but he doesn't care (it kills her to see him struggle). 

There's a love scene between them that is both perfectly awkward and quietly romantic. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley mesh so beautifully together that you can't help but want to see where this couple ends up in five or 10 years. Their natural spark adds a light touch to the proceeds, and as a result, there's a great deal of knowing humor throughout. The film's conclusion offers no easy answers about their future, but it still manages to convey a sense of hope. This movie comes the closest to capturing the tumultuous, swirling trappings of male and female youth. Source:

Get a Job is a comedy about finding your way through a tough job market, but it’s also a movie that will find very little favor among anyone who has ever found themselves unemployed and looking for a job. Miles Teller continues to play upon his generally likeable personality that makes it easier to forgive him even when the film borrows a Seinfeld gag where he has to borrow urine from his father to pass a required drug test. At least it also wisely chooses not to steal the Seinfeld punchline, instead having Teller struggling with a tube spraying urine everywhere as he tries to fill the sample jar.

Teller and Cranston are quite fantastic as father and son, and they’re constantly the saving grace to a film that never quite finds its footing, especially when it tries to follow Will’s loser friends and their own attempts to keep a job. By the time Gillian (Anna Kendrick) loses her job over an hour into a movie, it’s become obvious the filmmakers don’t know what to do with the women in their movie, as they throw Kendrick in front of a video game taking tokes off a bong, as if that’s what her character might do in that situation. Source:

The suicide rate in the US has surged to its highest level in almost three decades, according to a new report. The increase is particularly pronounced among middle-age white people who now account for a third of all US suicides. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report did not offer an explanation for the steep rise. However, other experts have pointed to increased abuse of prescription opiates and the financial downturn that began in 2008 as likely factors. "This is part of the larger emerging pattern of evidence of the links between poverty, hopelessness and health," Robert D Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard, told the New York Times. CDC reported that suicides have increased in the US to a rate of 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. In 2014, more than 14,000 middle-aged white people killed themselves. That figure is double the combined suicides total for all blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaska Natives. Source:

Shailene Woodley spoke to the audience about her reasons for supporting Sanders and her personal experience volunteering for the campaign. She told personal stories and referenced issues such as climate change and the recent New York primary. She encouraged audience members to vote and to actively participate in volunteering for the campaign. “We have to bring and demand justice back in our country,” Woodley told the audience, adding that this is a “true political revolution that is bigger than us in this room, bigger than Bernie.” Source:

The Resilience of American Ideals: American exceptionalism is not just something that Americans claim for themselves. Discard the system that created the cultural capital, and the qualities we have loved about Americans will go away. Historically, Americans have been different as everyone around the world has recognized it. I am thinking of qualities such as American industriousness and neighborliness, but also American optimism even when there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it, our striking lack of class envy, and the assumption by most Americans that they are in control of their own destinies. Finally, there is the most lovable of exceptional American qualities: our tradition of insisting that we are all part of the middle class, even if we aren’t. The exceptionalism has not been a figment of anyone’s imagination, and it has been wonderful, unique among the nations of the earth, and immeasurably precious. Let’s not forget it, or we may end up regretting it for good. -"Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010" (2013) by Charles Murray

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Looking Like Elvis Presley: Miles Teller

“They've never cast anyone who looks less like Elvis than Michael,” says Jerry Schilling. “Yet he really captures the inner Elvis. He did my friend justice. He may be the best Elvis of all time.”

The original meeting between President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley occurred on December 21, 1970 at the White House. Spacey studied photos and news footage to understand that Nixon was “physically uncomfortable in his own body” and listened to phone calls and tapes to understand the rhythms of Nixon’s private speaking voice.

“Nobody looks like Elvis,” says Liza Johnson, director of Elvis and Nixon. “It's harder to look like Elvis in 1955, when he had the most beautiful face, but at any point the gap in likeness is not something you can win.” Schilling had to push the Elvis & Nixon screenwriters to capture Presley’s human side. The movie shows how Presley revels in fame's indulgences yet he's acutely aware of his isolation and is consumed by it. One scene the writers added has Elvis commenting to Schilling about the hairspray, black dye and facial cream required to create his public persona. 

“I become a thing. I become an object,” says Shannon-as-Elvis. Shannon says of the real Presley: “They buried him so deep under gold, jewelry and money, flashbulbs, stage makeup, screaming fans.” Once Shannon started studying the part, he couldn't help falling in love with Presley. “He was a deep guy who was always searching for something. One of his favorite books was Siddhartha, which I never would have guessed.” Source:

Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Miles Teller: “I want to play Young Elvis. They’ve never gotten that right. It’s easy to do wrecked, bloated, and drug-addicted. I want to play characters who have the fever and win. It’s harder.”

Miles Teller: Elvis Presley? That’s the one I really want. I kind of look the part. I think he and I look alike and do a lot of similar things well: sing, dance, and I think he played sports. Just gotta make my accent a little more ‘Memphis’. There are a couple of scripts floating around, but I feel they’ve never really got [an Elvis biopic] right yet. You’ve got to see him rocking and rolling, not as this awkward kid. I want to do the Walk The Line version; they want to do the Hairspray version. But hopefully it’ll happen. I just need to find the right filmmaker. Source:

Miles Teller
Elvis Presley.
Miles Teller.
Elvis Presley.
Miles Teller.
Elvis Presley.

In "The Spectacular Now" Miles Teller has a strong resemblance to Elvis in some sequences:

Also it's interesting that Miles Teller seems to be a very family-oriented guy, with a playful sense of humor and musical/acting talent. Even in his affectionate photos with Keleigh Sperry (his stunning model girlfriend who is as eye-catching as Priscilla Presley), there is sometimes a similar vibe:

 Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry at the 2016 MTV Movie Awards on April 9, 2016 in Los Angeles.
Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry at the 'Fantastic Four' New York Premiere, August 2015.

Elvis and Priscilla on their wedding day in Las Vegas, May 1, 1967.

Aaron Swartz (The Idealist), Mr. Robot (Season 2 Trailer): Hacker Connection Changing the World

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was the law that prosecutors deployed against Aaron Swartz, an internet activist who killed himself after a years-long legal battle centered around his decision to mass download academic journals. Swartz was hit with the law after he entered a network closet at MIT and mass downloaded millions of academic journals from JSTOR, a company that generally charges for access. Swartz was charged with essentially violating the terms of service of JSTOR; because the CFAA was applied, he faced years in prison. Swartz ultimately killed himself after a plea deal was rejected by prosecutors. Source:

Aaron Swartz wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up in a computer-friendly home at the dawn of the internet era, he quickly became proficient in programming and coding and began to see all the possibilities that the online world could offer. The computer prodigy dropped out of North Shore Country Day after 9th grade. Why waste time in organized schooling when there was so much else that could be accomplished online? It became a pattern: Swartz later dropped out of Stanford after feeling discontent with the level of academic rigor. Eventually, he also left a lucrative job in Silicon Valley to pursue a career in activism. Source:

David Foster Wallace was Swartz’s favorite fiction writer. He had started unraveling David Foster Wallace’s notoriously dense novel Infinite Jest. “He spent, like, entire weekends where he was mostly working on this plot summary of Infinite Jest,” Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman recalled. “He loved taking complex narratives and distilling their essences.” At the beginning of 2011, in a capsule review of a book about the Toyota Motor Corporation, Swartz wrote that “lean production” was “undoubtedly the greatest human art form,” “with sex running a close second,” he clarified. -"The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet" (2016) by Justin Peters

Justin Peters: -It would be very hard to argue that the internet is more free right now than it was in 2003 in America. The thing that separated Aaron and how he chose to live his life from the rest of us was more sort of a lifelong conscious choice to work against his own best interests. That’s something we could all chose to do. By working against his own best interests, I mean that he was in Silicon Valley at the birth of social web. He was one of the first startups. Before he died, Aaron was working on this project called Secure Drop, which was a tool for leakers or whistleblowers to be able to securely and anonymously leak information. I think he would have been inspired by Snowden and probably would have tried to help empower other potential Snowdens out there. I think Snowden certainly falls in the same line of Swartz and the other data idealists. Source:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley play Edward Snowden and Lindsay Mills in "Snowden" (2016) directed by Oliver Stone

'Mr. Robot' Season 2 Trailer Promises to Change the World. "The truth is, we have more power than they think. The power to take action, to choose to do something," his character says. "Together, we change the world, change our future, and there's nothing they can do to stop us."

Rami Malek photographed by Eric Ray Davidson for The Hollywood Reporter (April 2016).

It sounds as if Elliott (Rami Malek) will be trying to galvanize potential followers into further action. "Elliott committed a crime in the first season, and we're gonna see the ramifications of that in the second season, I think that drives a lot about what the second season's all about," creator and showrunner Sam Esmail said. "And that's why there's the introduction of law enforcement that was kind of intentionally not shown in the first season, so that opens a whole new dimension there. And really I think the second season is about [Elliott and Mr. Robot] - that internal struggle, what does that look like, and how are they going to reconcile it?" "Mr. Robot" will return to USA Network for a second season this summer. Source: