WEIRDLAND: September 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"The Neon Demon" Blu-Ray: Beauty Always Wins

Nicholas Winding Refn: "Jesse (Elle Fanning) is partly a ghost that has gone through this thousands of times. Partly, she’s innocence that’s devoured by the industry. She may have initiated it, or she may not have — again, both sides of the coin. But when she’s devoured, three things happen: Jena Malone’s character, who initiates this whole ceremony of beauty, menstruates again, has something flowing through her. Bella Heathcote, who wants to manufacture her own beauty, dies — because that’s the one thing that you can’t do. And Abbey Lee, the supermodel, who felt like a ghost, but finds everything within her again, by eating the thing that Jesse is." Source:

Abbey Lee and Bella Heathcote are great as Jesse's chief rivals. They each have an otherworldly beauty to them but as the movie makes so painfully clear, it is, in the world of The Neon Demon at least, an artificial beauty. Jesse has what everyone wants, a ‘deer in the headlights' look, a ‘girl next door' look and, as she learns fairly quickly… "Women would kill to look like this."

Abbey Lee: The thing is, the visual that you get of the girl walking through the desert when the credits roll up, a lot of people think that's Jesse, but it's actually Sarah. In my mind, there's a transcendence that happens. I think the second Sarah eats the eyeball and transcends into like, a golden goddess walking through the desert, in my mind it's Nick saying that beauty does win — that beauty always wins.

The Neon Demon Blu-Ray Extras: The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary with director Nicolas Winding Refn who is joined by actress Elle Fanning. This is a pretty solid track with Refn talking about some of what inspired him to make this movie, a few ideas that were originally included that were then discarded as the production evolved, casting the film, some of the stand out visuals employed, the score and more. Fanning is able to offer some welcome insight into her character, what it was like working with Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and some of the other cast members. There are also two short featurettes included on the disc, the first of which is the five minute Behind The Soundtrack Of The Neon Demon wherein Refn and composer Cliff Martinez talk about the use of music in the film and how and why the score is used in the feature the way it is. 

Nicolas Winding Refn: "I shot a Gucci ad with Blake Lively, who is an extremely beautiful woman. A beautiful creature. I was very aware of the fact of my own obsession with beauty and my own obsession with wanting to be a beautiful woman. So in a way, “Neon Demon” was my ability to live out that fantasy, and of course touching on my own thoughts regarding the obsession with beauty that we have in our world. The idea that obsession with beauty continues to rise and longevity continues to shrink and it’s becoming younger and younger so it will eventually feed on itself. I wanted to make a horror film about beauty. “Neon Demon” for me was like a ritualistic witchcraft analysis of beauty. It’s the creation of the demonic."

Jesse Eisenberg and Blake Lively in "Café Society" (2016) directed by Woody Allen.

Jonah Hill and Miles Teller star in War Dogs, but they weren’t the first actors cast. The script — which Phillips, Stephen Chin, and Jason Smilovic worked on — was written with The Wolf of Wall Street actor in mind, so after Jesse Eisenberg and Shia LaBeouf fell off the project, it all ended up working out, according to Phillips: "Eisenberg and LaBeouf were attached for a moment, and then we ended up pushing the movie an entire year and both guys became unavailable. When I first went to Jonah, before we pushed the movie, Jonah actually turned it down. I then cast it with Eisenberg and LaBeouf, then we pushed the movie a year for production reasons and that’s when they became unavailable." Two months before shooting, Miles Teller wasn’t a sure thing for the role of David Packouz, either. He had a scheduling conflict of some sort. As for Eisenberg and LaBeouf, they’d be easy to imagine in War Dogs. Obviously, they’d bring something different to the roles — they’re not all that similar to Teller and Hill— but in the end, Phillips got the actors he wanted. Source:

Haley Bennett plays Megan, the seemingly perfect wife at the heart of The Girl on the Train. Also out this fall is Warren Beatty’s long-awaited Rules Don’t Apply, about the adventures of Howard Hughes during the golden age of Hollywood. Bennett, showing her range, plays Mamie—“You’ll get to hear me sing.” 

We’ll also see her opposite Miles Teller in Thank You for Your Service (based on David Finkel’s book about American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan), and she’s finished filming for Terrence Malick’s ode to the Austin music scene Weightless, in which she shares screen time with Christian Bale and Michael Fassbender. This impressive run reminds Bennett that, after almost a decade working, there is one particular director always at the top of her wish list: “I don’t know that I’ll ever get to make my ideal film, because Frank Capra is dead.” Nonetheless, the wish persists. “Eventually, I would like to remake one of his films—but that might be dangerous.”

Friday, September 23, 2016

Shailene Woodley & Miles Teller: Learning about Emotional Masturbation

Shailene Woodley has some requests about how sex education is taught in schools. Woodley, who is Net-a-Porter‘s digital magazine’s cover story, speaks up about the various causes that matter most to her, one of them being sex ed. She has thoughts about masturbation education, specifically.

Woodley mentions she once thought of pursuing the subject of masturbation and turning it into a book. She tells Net-a-Porter, “I’ve always had a dream of making a book called There’s No Right Way to Masturbate.” She believes young women should learn how to pleasure themselves because it is an important part of self-discovery: “As a young woman… you don’t learn what an orgasm should be, you don’t learn that you can have feelings of satisfaction.”

Woodley, who starred in Secret Life of the American Teenager, also attributes the connection of masturbation to teen pregnancy: “If masturbation were taught in school, I wonder how [many] fewer people would get herpes at 16 or pregnant at 14.” Source:

Hardly anyone is happy with sex education: All of the deep embarrassment you felt during sex-education class is still reddening the faces of kids all over the world. A new study has found that in at least 10 different countries, kids hate the way they’re being taught about sex in school. In the study published in the journal BMJ Open, researchers pored over 55 qualitative studies that examined the views of young people — mostly ages 12 to 18 — who’d received sex-and-relationship education at school in the U.S., UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Iran, Brazil and Sweden between 1990 and 2015. Teachers also presented the information as overly scientific, with hardly a nod to pleasure and desire; female pleasure was rarely mentioned. Source:

Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton as Alec and Megan in "Two Night Stand" (2014) discuss techniques of sexual improvement and sharing pleasure. -Alec: "When I was inside of you, you started doing this thing... you started helping yourself a little bit and it kind of made me feel like I was being benched. Second string." -Megan: "Noted. Okay, I don't know who first taught guys to do the 'alphabet with their tongue' thing, but it makes me feel like I'm Helen Keller being fucked by her teacher." -Alec: "And that is not a fantasy of yours?" -Megan: "There was a moment during foreplay in which I was maybe close to coming. And I believe I subtly pointed this out for you. Do you remember what it was that I said?" -Alec: "[you said] 'I'm close to coming.'" -Megan: "You kept trying to give me hickeys, you went like way too fast, like you were drilling me for oil. And then... you did find my G-spot... When a girl is helping herself, that's a good fucking thing... it's not like we're competing on some awesome erotic Japanese game show; we are having sex. You know, like, embrace the team spirit."

Miles Teller almost died a few years ago. After spending a few days at a Connecticut music festival, he and two buddies were road tripping home to Florida. Cruising down the highway at 75 mph, Teller's friend tried to switch lanes but lost control of the car, which went across three lanes of traffic, into a grass median, and flipped seven times. Teller was thrown 25 feet and awoke covered in blood.

"Do you want to feel?," the boyish actor said, showing off scars on his chin, neck and shoulder. "Some people get really excited by that." Two of his best friends were killed in a car accident a year later. Having to play a high school student who kills a boy with his car in 'Rabbit Hole' was overwhelming at first for the rookie actor. Teller was jarred by the bizarre happenstance of it all — but wasn't about to give up his first big break. "I was so afraid to even get close to the emotion I had to portray, because it would go into something else. It would end up being emotional masturbation." Teller had barely had any real-world acting experience.

As a kid, he'd moved a lot. His dad worked as an employee at nuclear power plants, and his job took the family from Delaware to New Jersey to Florida — where they settled in Lecanto, a town of fewer than 8,000 people. "When I first moved there, it was huge culture shock. I had never seen real-life rednecks," said Teller. "People wore Wranglers and cowboy hats and gold chains... I had no idea what was going on."

In an effort to find his niche during his sophomore year of high school, he decided on a whim to join the drama club — populated by "social outcasts who wore 'Nightmare Before Christmas' T-shirts" — because he thought Beth Bedee (the blond teacher who ran it) was hot. He was good at acting and began competing in the Florida State Thespian Program for audiences of thousands. He applied to a number of competitive college acting programs, including Juilliard, but ultimately ended up at Tisch. That was where he found his manager, who took the beginner on as a client after sitting in on one of his classes.

Cameron Mitchell said Teller's early tribulations will likely serve him well as he pursues a career in Hollywood. "He's so unobtrusive; but he's got these incredibly powerful, deep-pooled eyes that have definitely seen things before his time," said the director. "Oftentimes, experiencing tragedy very young can strangely give you a kind of equilibrium. He's less impressed by say, celebrities, or things that don't have that much weight — because he knows where he's been, and he knows what he's lost." Source:

-Miles Teller did an interview with Esquire in which he detailed how he lost the part in La La Land. Is that really how things happened?

-I probably just won’t say anything about anything he said in the interview. Except what I will say is that the casting of this movie during the six years it took to get made went through lots of permutations, and it’s true there was a moment where Emma Watson and Miles Teller were doing it. And neither of those casting things wound up lasting or working out. But I loved working with him in Whiplash. That’s why he and I started talking about doing this one together. And I think he’s an extraordinary actor and I can’t wait to see Bleed for This. Source:

Miles Teller described his odd “first contact” with Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza, whom he portrays in Bleed for This. “He sent me a headshot of himself — him like boxing — and it said ‘Miles, don’t f— up my reputation. Stuff a banana in your pants if you have to. I’ll f— you up. I’m kidding, but seriously.'” Source:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Shailene Woodley's Healthy Hair, Antibacterial Microfiber Towels

“Privacy isn’t a human right anymore—it’s a privilege,” says Shailene Woodley, who plays Edward Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills wearing a long brown wig, in Stone’s biopic "Snowden".

Pre-2014 Shailene Woodley had the best mane of hair in Hollywood.

Her brunette locks keep growing and looking very healthy in "The Edit Net-A-Porter" photosession, September 2016.

How to take care properly of your hair? Instead of using a  raspy cotton towel, wrap your hair in an old t-shirt to avoid frizziness. If you don’t want to use a t-shirt you can consider using a microfiber towel, which will cause less damage then normal towels and it will absorb the moisture faster than a towel thanks to its lisse crepe fabric. 

Although cotton (terry) towels have been the most popular choice for their durability and versatility, microfiber is quickly becoming the top pick for many carwashes and detailing centers because of its impressive absorbency and longevity. The microfiber towels are considered as the best materials when it comes to wiping out stains around home furniture. Microfiber towels must always be washed separately from other fabrics and materials, especially cotton towels. The lint from other towels will stick to the microfiber, so it's best to wash microfiber towels apart. You can wash them easily with soap and hot water in the washing machine.  

Microfiber consists entirely of polyester, a polymer, and a nylon byproduct. The way the fibers are woven determines the quality of the fabric. These fibers are 1/100th the thickness of an average human hair. In cleaning products they are split and a cross-section of a fiber looks a bit like an asterisk. These tiny gaps trap dust, dirt, and liquids more effectively. These microfiber cloths and mops work wonderfully along with any other eco-friendly cleaning solutions. Their electrostatic properties attract dust. The fibers are positively charged, dirt and dust are negatively charged, so they are attracted to microfiber like a magnet. 

Microfiber Cleaning Cloths: The dirt remains locked deep inside the cloth, enabling you to continuously clean without releasing dirt back on to the cleaning surface. The dirt is retained in the material until it is washed reducing the need for frequent rinsing. The cleaning surface will become so clean that new dirt will not be attracted as easily. What makes the microfiber cloths unique are their health benefits, reducing the incidence of environmental allergies.

Microfiber towels have a plush feel and the ability to absorb up to seven times its weight in water. They are exceptionally soft, like bamboo or Egyptian cotton spa towels, super absorbent, quick drying and no linting. You'll experience a warmer feel, and bacteria doesn't grow like in cotton fabric. You can reuse the same towels for weeks without need to wash them continually.

A recent study showed that microfiber products can help prevent the spread of bacteria, particularly Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The tests showed that MRSA on microfiber products, including gloves, napkins and towels, was reduced by nearly 100% two hours after initial contact. Cotton is an organic material that actually serves as a nutrient for bacteria. Poly-cotton textiles showed a 72% reduction rate, and cotton products displayed only 27% reduction. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Celebrating Classic Masculinity in "Sully" (Tom Hanks) and "Bleed for This" (Miles Teller)

Are Sully’s views of masculine emotional intimacy outdated? Clint Eastwood’s just-released Sully clearly admires its titular character, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks. It presents Sully as an icon of competence, integrity, and calm under pressure. Like most such movies lionizing competent men, it relegates the wife, here played by the thrice-Oscar-nominated Laura Linney, to a background role. The movie is set in the days after Sully successfully executed an emergency water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan, after the aircraft was disabled by striking a flock of Canada geese during its initial climb out of LaGuardia Airport on January 15, 2009. All of the 155 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft survived.

Because of this framing device, Hanks and Linney never appear together. She remains ensconced in their generic suburban cul-de-sac with what appear to be two daughters, while he and his co-pilot, played by Aaron Eckhart, are housed in a Manhattan Marriott, celebrated by the media and public, but challenged by the NTSB for failing to attempt to land the plane at nearby airports. Spousal interactions are limited to phone conversations and their exchanges uniformly hit the same note: Sully calls his wife; she proceeds to bombard him with her worries; he assures her everything will be fine. His wife rarely asks how he’s handling the fear of almost dying, the pressure of being in the media spotlight, or the scrutiny of his decision to attempt a water landing. 

Meanwhile Sully does his (emotionally limited) best to assure her that he’s fine, and to empathize with her own media onslaught. There’s no indication she understands, or even acknowledges, the tremendous stress of his situation. Similarly, there’s no indication that Sully is annoyed by her clueless self-absorption. Rather than burden his wife with his fears, Sully saves such conversations for his (male) co-pilot, with whom he second guesses his decision and worries about his future. Perhaps, not ironically, it is the competence of Sully and his co-pilot that enabled the safe water landing and the rescue of all passengers and crew. In contrast, one senses that Sully obtains no emotional support from his wife, but sees his role in their marriage as being the stoic provider of safety–or, rather, the illusion of safety.

At the end of the movie, Sully demonstrates to the NTSB that his decision to attempt the water landing not only saved his passengers and crew but prevented the much greater disaster of a crash into densely populated areas. Eastwood is celebrating a notion of masculinity that combines competence, integrity, calmness under pressure, and a concern for the needs and fears of others. In the world of work, this notion of masculinity is extremely attractive–and no longer confined to members of the male gender. However, in the scenes of Sully’s marriage, Eastwood is expressing that same view of masculinity–one involving sublimation of one’s own needs and fears to assuage the needs and fears of others. 

As a pilot, Sully presents an image of masculinity that assures his passengers that everything will be okay–even as he understands there is always a possibility of a crash. As a husband, Sully provides similar comfort through the assurance and false promises of security. Although contemporary cosmopolitan culture pays lip service to a desire to have men be more emotionally open, doing so would require removing the illusion of safety such masculinity provides and that so many find comforting. Eastwood would appear to not find such change desirable. I’m unclear the culture-at-large would either.

More than ever, the boxing picture has proven to be a right of passage for young actors, allowing them to prove their macho bona-fides. More often than not they totally transform their bodies in an attempt to emulate De Niro in RAGING BULL or Stallone in ROCKY. Last year, Jake Gyllenhaal did it with SOUTHPAW and now Miles Teller’s having his turn with BLEED FOR THIS, which has the added cachet of counting Martin Scorsese as one of its executive producers.

It’s certainly an impressive achievement for Teller, who seems to be trying to change his image as the brash Paz, with his physical transformation as impressive as any in recent memory. Bulked-up in a way that will shock those who know him mostly as seemingly mild indie lead, it’s the kind of performance that proves Teller’s the real deal, despite some dodgy press and vehicles like FANTASTIC FOUR. A loud, impossibly confident figure, Paz is different than the kind of boxer we usually see in movies like this. He’s neither a self-destructive freight-train nor is he an underdog in the mold of Rocky Balboa. He’s more of an average guy, being far from the dumb mug you might expect. Teller, Eckhart and Hinds are all excellent and Younger has a good handle on the material, making this a solid fight flick in the vein of THE FIGHTER. Source:

Bleed for This is unremitting in its toxic masculinity. Miles Teller plays Vinny Pazienza, who held world championship titles at three different weights in the late '80s and early '90s. His story is a classic example of the triumph of the human spirit. After suffering a car crash, he endured a halo, a rack that screwed into his skull, for six months in order to heal. Against all odds, as they say, he eventually recovered and went on to win more championships. Bleed for This is macho taken to the point of existential absurdity. It ends with an interview Pazienza gives when a reporter asks him what the biggest lie in boxing is. His answer is ,"It's not that simple." That's the biggest lie. Because it is that simple. Get it? You just have to want it. Grit is all it takes? 

In On the Waterfront, Terry Malloy, a failed boxer, comes to realize that the masculinity by which he has lived his entire life—the brotherhood of the Union and the boxing ring—is a sham, that he has been destroyed by the toughness he allowed to define him. The point of Bleed for This is: "Guys gotta be tough, you know?" We are going backwards in a hurry. Source:

Men might want to ditch the pickup lines and polish their punchlines in their quest to attract women, new research at the University of Kansas suggests. Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of communication studies, found that the more times a man tries to be funny and the more a woman laughs at those attempts, the more likely it is for the woman to be interested in dating. Those findings were among the discoveries Hall made in his search for a link between humor and intelligence. For the past decade, research has debated whether women appreciate men’s humor, which is often cited as one of the most valued traits in a partner, because it allows them to suss out the smarts of potential mates.

In the article “Sexual Selection and Humor in Courtship: A Case for Warmth and Extroversion,” which was published online in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, Hall discusses three studies he performed that didn’t find a connection between humor and intelligence. The results did suggest the more times a man tried to be funny and the more times a woman laughed at his jokes, the more likely she was romantically interested. The reverse was not true for women who attempted humor.

Men use humor to gauge if women are interested in them. “Men are trying to get women to show their cards,” Hall said. “For some men it is a conscious strategy.” When men make jokes and women laugh, they may be performing a script in courtship. Men acting like jokers and women laughing along may be part of it. Humor is valuable for humor's sake. “Shared laughter might be a pathway toward developing a more long-lasting relationship,” Hall said. Source:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mr. Robot's fractured realities, Coney Island Baby's extended coda

“Pyth0n-pt1.p7z” begins the process of pushing Mr. Robot into bold new territory, and that transition might be too much for those who thought the show took place in our world. Much like the confusing whirlwind of events surrounding Angela Moss, the show is lurching out of the accepted reality that has anchored it to a universe recognizably our own. It’s threatening to blow open the gates of logic and rationality, and introduce a mysterious sci-fi conceit that would place it firmly in an otherworldly domain. All season, the show has teased the idea of alternate realities, or different understandings of time than our own linear one, and most of these strange proposals have come from Whiterose.

Kidnapping Angela, they drove her out of the city, out of any symbols or signifiers of comfort or familiarity. And they placed her in a room straight out of a David Lynch movie. From the pitch-black shadows saturating the room (after passing by a row of family photos in which the faces have been blotted out with red and yellow squares), to the simple table with old-school equipment, it conjured up images of Mulholland Drive’s red room, or something from Twin Peaks, or Lost Highway. All of which showcase fractured identities, and playing with time. We hope for something more. But there are men beyond our reach, men like Phillip Price, who pull levers and manipulate people, and get their way, even at the cost of the world itself. “This was always the future,” Price tells his hapless government associate. But Whiterose—and now, Angela—have a different story to tell. And it has a very simple, and utterly unbelievable, beginning: What if Price’s inevitable future wasn’t? Source:

Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail credits consulting with a psychologist in order to accurately portray Elliot’s dissociative identity disorder (DID), as well as personal experiences with anxiety and addiction. From the beginning, viewers with experience with depression, social anxiety, addiction, and even autism have praised the show’s sensation of authenticity. Mr. Robot places the viewer almost entirely in Elliot’s reality. Major psychology and psychiatry associations agree that DID cannot be cured in such a straightforward sense and therapy should focus on the integration of alters, or increased coping and cooperation between personalties, rather than one “defeating” the other, as in Fight Club. Source:

Lou Reed was a self-sabotaging, widely disliked man who gave voice to the unwanted and despised. Like Danny Fields said "poor Lou - his act worked too well." Humanity brought out the worst in him, and he returned the favor. Reed had been tormented in elementary school and suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. After high school, Reed eventually made his way to Syracuse and and reinvented himself in an outlandish subculture.

For the rest of his life Reed made much of his relationship there with Delmore Schwartz, who had been a celebrated American poet (at the time when that meant something.) At Syracuse, Schwartz was already in the throes of a death spiral of alcoholism and schizophrenia that would destroy his life.

Coney Island Baby is one of Reed's most interesting works. It's all built on a single strummed two-chord riff, here delivered almost absentmindedly, but with a relentless track of quiet lead guitar filigrees behind it. The song starts out as a sentimental high-school tale ("I wanted to play football for the coach"), but then widens its view to include a somewhat melodramatic gritty urban portrait ("Something like a circus or a sewer"), and refocuses back into something sincere ("The glory of love might see you through"). "Different people," Reed tells us in a ferocious utterance, "have peculiar tastes." He struggled to articulate this passion throughout his career, never more passionately and believably than here. 

Reed's achievements: The towering guitar change-up on "Sweet Jane," heroic nearly a half-century later; the filigreed melody of a song like "Femme Fatale"; the three-note riff, dropping off an emotional cliff, that undergirds "The Bells"; "Walk on the Wild Side," arguably the most subversive hit single of all time. Take No Prisoners, a 1978 two-disc live album, is more revealing than any other of his records.

And yet nothing can compare with the lovely, cathartic version of "Coney Island Baby" here. It's a coursing workout with crushing dynamics and lyrical interludes. At the end, Reed drops the murmured dedication to Lou and the lost Rachel and replaces it with an extended coda. That coda consists of that single hopeful phrase, "The glory of love might see you through," roared over and over, and over again. You can hear Reed babbling himself almost into incoherence. Blaring horns and some game backup singers wail, with almost Springsteenian grandeur, behind him. This closing maelstrom, his insistence that love can and must redeem us in the face of hate, goes on for minutes; let yourself get caught up in it and you believe it. The music finally stops. "Sorry it took a while," Reed snaps to the crowd. Clearly, he'd gotten off. -"Lou Reed: Untransformed" by Bill Wyman