Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
Staff Picks Volume 36
Sunday, December 02, 2012 - 01:50 PM
A few of our favorite things this week. It's like opening up a few doors of an advent calendar all at once.
Two quick picks:
A nearby theater is playing my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie, which I can’t recommend enough, Shadow of a Doubt. Written by Thornton Wilder, it’s a classic noir-y tale of a small town and an innocent girl who begin to believe that a beloved visiting uncle is evil. It’s a brilliant template for every story of a benign small town whose innocence is lost (and paranoia is found) when a stranger with a secret comes to town. And it’s the first place I heard the indelible truth that you should never, ever put a hat on a bed.
And last week I read another story by Jennifer Gonnerman that reminded me again of why I think she’s the best of the regrettably small group of reporters who cover criminal justice – on a micro scale. Last week’s story in New York Magazine, of a man who turned himself in for murder 17 years after the crime, is a perfect example of how Gonnerman tells personal stories that add up to an x-ray of institutions, be they juvenile justice, predatory lending, subway motormen (and women) or taxi dispatchers. I’m always compelled by her writing, she’s unflinching, never harangues and I’m so glad she gives me insight into the people she does.
Comedian Paul F. Tompkins is a favorite around here for his podcast The Pod F. Tompkast. He's also a great stand-up. I found this .gif of him saying 'no' (he says 'no' in a distinctive way). I'll take it as an opportunity to interview him, since that's something I'd love to do.
Q: Mr. Tompkins, you were in There Will Be Blood. You're the guy screaming "Mr. Plainview! Mr. Plainview!" at the end of that clip. It's a small part, but is there anything, anything at all, you could have done that would have more delighted your fan Chris Neary than improbably showing up in a masterpiece of a movie playing a bit part?
Q: Paul, you dress well. Just look at you. Pocket square, classy tie, dapper vest. Could I convince you to loosen-up a little? Maybe wear some sweatpants from time to time?
Q: Hey Paul, what's your favorite kind of Japanese theater that's been performed since the 14th century? (Also, I like it when people leave the last letter off words).
Thanks man, it's been a thrill.
Don’t worry I am NOT recommending Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video—the video broke records last week when it beat out Justin Bieber’s “Baby” for the most viewed on Youtube, so I am pretty sure everyone has already seen it. What I AM recommending is this video of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” with all the music removed, and “real” sound effects added. Basically the creator of the video took out the instrumentals, left in Psy’s singing, and added sounds that correlate with whatever is happening on screen (children laughing in the playground scene, horses naying in the stables, etc.) Trust me, even if you have seen the original, this is mesmerizing:
This weekend, I ate at a Vegetarian Indian buffet called Earthen Jar in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that is run by an Indian family that I think might also be Rastafaris. So there’s a bunch of delicious Indian food, the constant thrum of reggae and pictures of Bob Marley everywhere. It was ital.
Jamie Scott's striking time-lapse photography of foliage in Central Park made quite a splash Vimeo over the past few days. Not even up for a week yet, its play count has already reached 350,000.
The feel of the video reminded me of this pastel-on-slate animation that blew me away at the 2009 Boston Film Festival:
Lincoln! Go see it. It's great. It doesn't make the biopic mistake of trying to tell the whole story of somebody's life in an arc-less, checking-off-the-check-boxes way. Instead, they focus on the story of Lincoln and Seward working to pass the 13th amendment as the Civil War ends. It ends up dramatizing vote-wrangling and politicking and political corruption in a way that makes you feel good about American democracy, instead of sad and anxious about it.