“La Soledad is the latest in a glut of Venezuelan films telling unflinching, complex stories of life in the troubled Andean nation. It might seem surprising, given the increasingly authoritarian regime of Nicolás Maduro, that these films have often benefitted from state funding. … A major reconfiguration came in 2005 with a reform to the country’s national cinematography law. This dictated quotas for the proportion of Venezuelan films in theatres, initiated a tax on cinemas and distributors to fund Venezuelan film-makers and granted tax exemptions for private-sector support of Venezuelan films. Since the new law came into effect, more and more Venezuelans have been going to cinemas: a record 4.2m did so in 2014.”
The dispute began in 2016, when Mr. Lombardo, a playwright, was preparing to stage “Who’s Holiday!” — a 75-minute, one-woman play that features Cindy Lou Who, the adorable girl from the book who teaches the greedy Grinch the true meaning of Christmas. In Mr. Lombardo’s version, Cindy Lou Who is all grown up. She is now a hard-drinking, prescription-drug-abusing middle-aged woman who lives in a trailer park and served time in prison for killing her husband, the Grinch.
The prize for medicine went to neuroscientists who explored the reasons some people are disgusted by cheese, while medical researchers who found that learning to play the didgeridoo strengthens the muscles that control breathing and can reduce snoring received the peace prize. And since one definition of a liquid is matter that takes the shape of its container, the physics prize was given to a scientist who suggests that cats (see photo) are arguably liquid as well as solid.
“We’re highlighting some of the influential black women who came before, and have been changing the game in the downtown dance scene for almost four decades. They continue to thrive and survive, although in [one case], posthumously. As young dancemakers, we have to know the shoulders on which we stand.”
Take that, Met! “Since the opening of the company’s 2017/2018 earlier this month, subtitles are offered from suitably dimmed screens, in English, German, Italian, French, Russian and Japanese. A pre-performance information system provides such useful things to know as plot synopses, cast lists, and any general current news to do with the activities of the company … And in the near future, further adaptations are planned so that guests can even order their interval snacks or drinks from the comfort of their own chair.”
A survey of high-school students that has been repeated for the past 60 years presents a startling picture. In 1950, 12 percent of students agreed with the statement, “I am a very important person.” By 1990 that had risen to 80 percent. Other scholars have found that student scores on an index of empathy have been going down over the same period. Moreover, recent research in cognitive science suggests that media overload (often implicated in iCreativity) may reduce compassion, empathy, moral reasoning, and tolerance. For many young people, if they cannot insert themselves into an experience—capture it in what some observers call “life-catching”—and share it online with friends, then it is not worth the effort.
“Netflix’s selection of classic cinema is abominable—and it seems to shrink more every year or so. As of this month, the streaming platform offers just 43 movies made before 1970, and fewer than 25 from the pre-1950 era (several of which are World War II documentaries). It’s the sort of classics selection you’d expect to find in a decrepit video store in 1993, not on a leading entertainment platform that serves some 100 million global subscribers.”
“Billed as Dean Stanton throughout the 1950s and 60s, the narrow-faced, weather-beaten actor with the hangdog expression was probably the busiest actor of his generation. His distinctive features and style proved a godsend for casting directors in search of conmen, misfits, sleazeballs, losers and eccentrics. In the first half of his career, Stanton made scores of television appearances, mainly westerns, and dozens of films, mostly in brief roles. His face but not his name gained recognition. That is until he came into more focus in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) as a downtrodden engineer on the doomed spaceship. Then, in 1984, greatness was thrust upon him when he was given two of his rare leading roles, in Alex Cox’s Repo Man and Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas.”
The problem especially afflicts the major fall festivals: Venice, Telluride, Toronto. “The way films are received at major festivals … dictates how independent and prestige titles will be positioned for the rest of the year. That positioning will then influence the Oscars, which govern in turn the types of films that get made and celebrated. While most big film festivals are built on good intentions, the atmosphere around them has become oddly reductive.”
“At the beginning and end of the program, all of the students took a series of tests. They were asked to describe, in detail, images that depicted artworks, retinas, and the faces of patients suffering from various eye-related diseases. The observational skills of the 18 students who took the art course increased significantly over the three months. Somewhat surprisingly, those of the 18 who did not take it actually declined during that same period.”
“The AI distinguished between a healthy brain and one with Alzheimer’s with an accuracy of 86 per cent. Crucially, it could also tell the difference between healthy brains and those with MCI with an accuracy of 84 per cent. This shows that the algorithm could identify changes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s almost a decade before clinical symptoms appear.”
“Bookstores are making a comeback. Just take a look at the membership numbers of American Booksellers Association (ABA), a trade organization that works with independent bookstores: In 2009, ABA membership hit a low, with just 1,651 locations. Like a phoenix, that number has risen for the last seven years, reaching more than 2,320 locations in 2017. Book sales in independent stores are also up. According to the ABA, book sales in U.S. indie shops grew more than 10 percent in 2015 over the previous year, and in 2016 sales at independent bookstore were up nearly 5 percent.”
According to advertising agency ODW, which is introducing the scheme, advertisers will be able to reach an audience “with high purchasing power”, building on the success of lucrative cinema advertising, while theatres can bring in additional advertising revenue and promote upcoming productions with trailers.
“Whether appearing as a drug or disease, the visual language of the Northern Renaissance was clearly influenced by the ergot fungus. Further research into this historical intersection will offer a better understanding of the way artists have responded to forces of temptation and torment with visual representation and might do so in the present day.”
“We feel that casting a false shadow of criticism and scandal over documenta 14 does a disservice to the work that the artistic director and his team have put into this exhibition. Shaming through debt is an ancient financial warfare technique; these terms of assessment have nothing to do with what the curators have made possible, and what the artists have actually done within this exhibition.”
“Already there are rumblings of an exodus. Has the festival assured through its actions that it will become, if it survives, simply a regional educational event, without the ambitious reach it once enjoyed? As crucially, considering the public relations damage that has already been done, can the festival regain the public’s trust? This is a mess. And it needs actual solving, not just a lawyerly brushing-up of the crumbs.”
“Gurney’s work was never groundbreaking, but it resonated strongly with audiences of many ages, even though it was steeped in the lore of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who had dominated America for many years. From the very start, Gurney was quietly, subtly rebelling against his genteel upbringing, simultaneously taking pleasure in the traditions that had surrounded him growing up while poking fun at them theatrically.”
“For people bound by a separation from much of the outside world, new tech devices have brought fears about the consequence of internet access. There are worries about pornography; about whether social networks will lead sons and daughters to date non-Amish friends; and about connecting to a world of seemingly limitless possibilities.”