David Haglund

Dear Danny McBride:

I have a request. Or maybe just a message to pass along. It depends. In any case, it concerns your friend, David Gordon Green.

I know you guys went to film school together, and you seem pretty close. You certainly work together a lot: He directed you in the “action comedy” Pineapple Express and the “medieval stoner comedy” Your Highness, as well as in several episodes of your very funny HBO series about a former major league ballplayer,Eastbound & Down. He served as a consulting producer on other episodes. And now you’re both working on an animated show for MTV that he created, which debuts tonight. (More on that in a minute.)

What’s probably less well known is that your first credits came on small indie projects Green directed. You were a second unit director onGeorge Washington, his lyrical feature film debut from 2000 about kids in a small, hard-up town. I love that movie. And I liked All the Real Girls, his follow-up, a lot, too. You were good in it as Bust-Ass, a sort of no-good friend to the main character, played by Paul Schneider, who’s beginning to realize that sleeping with every girl in his small, Southern hometown isn’t going to make him happy after all. Zooey Deschanel has never been more charming, and Patricia Clarkson was great as always.

Both those movies showed the influence of Terrence Malick, with their unconventional use of voiceover and their deliberate pacing. But they weren’t mere imitations: They’re more domestic and less philosophical than Malick’s films, as though Green married Malick’s techniques to the intimacy of Charles Burnett’s wonderful Killer of Sheep from 1977 (to which George Washington is often compared).

Malick seemed to like those movies, too: He served as an executive producer on Green’s third feature, Undertow. I didn’t enjoy that one as much—and I confess I skipped the fourth, Snow Angels, which Green adapted from a Stewart O’Nan novel. So maybe I’m part of the problem here.

What is the problem?

[More.]

 

Coverage of the “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign has generally focused on the new way the Mormon church was presenting itself to the outside world. But as someone who grew up Mormon and left the church in college, I am more intrigued by how the campaign presents Mormons to themselves. John Dehlin, a progressive Mormon who runs a podcast called Mormon Stories, suggested to ABC News that the videos in many ways present a more tolerant and inclusive picture of the church than many Mormons experience; that seems right to me. And some may see that as duplicitous—perhaps fairly so. But by allowing individuals to claim the identity of Mormons for themselves, and tell their own stories, the campaign could, one imagines, actually begin to alter ideas within the church about what it means to be Mormon. Among the hundreds of personal narratives that have been uploaded to mormon.org are several written by gay Mormons, and at least one by someone who is black, bisexual, and Mormon.

Now, given the church’s history on the subject of race and its policies regarding gay marriage, why would anyone who is both black and bisexual choose to be Mormon? I have no idea. But, thanks to this ad campaign, you can, on a website owned and operated by the Mormon church, read someone else’s explanation.

[More.]

Consider a novel about a New Jersey family rocked by the cultural upheaval that came to many countries in 1968. If you call that novel American Pastoral, you are bypassing both its local and its global resonance in favor of a grand American narrative in which your novel now participates.

Imagine if Melville had gone with An American Whale? Or, say, The American Sea Captain? Arguably no other novel has said as much about the United States as Melville’s Moby-Dick—but we don’t need the title to tell us that. There is something hectoring about such titles. American TeenAmerican RecordingsAmerican Gangster. Hardly a month passes without a new “American” opus at the cinema, in the bookstore, or on television.

Besides bullying us with their national import, these titles often reinforce the fairly exaggerated ideas we tend to have about the uniqueness of this country. There are many things particular to and remarkable about the United States, but let’s not get carried away. Capitalism is not uniquely American (sorry, American Psycho). Suburbs are not uniquely American (sorry, American Beauty—the movie, I mean; and yes, plastic bags float in the wind in other countries, too).

[More.]

"I happened to be at the Dover Friendly’s this Saturday. Hadn’t been there in a while, but the waitress remembered that I liked the booth in the corner. I usually have breakfast, or a cheeseburger, cole slaw, and coffee—but this time, remembering old traditions, I had a cheeseburger club, which isn’t on the current menu—or maybe I was looking in the wrong place. “We can do that for you,” the waitress said. In the sixties and seventies Friendly’s mostly served its cheeseburgers on toast, not on buns—the toast is what made them so good.”
(Left, Nicholson Baker. Right, a Friendly’s in Unionville, Connecticut.)

"I happened to be at the Dover Friendly’s this Saturday. Hadn’t been there in a while, but the waitress remembered that I liked the booth in the corner. I usually have breakfast, or a cheeseburger, cole slaw, and coffee—but this time, remembering old traditions, I had a cheeseburger club, which isn’t on the current menu—or maybe I was looking in the wrong place. “We can do that for you,” the waitress said. In the sixties and seventies Friendly’s mostly served its cheeseburgers on toast, not on buns—the toast is what made them so good.”

(Left, Nicholson Baker. Right, a Friendly’s in Unionville, Connecticut.)

watchingdailies:

8/11
David Haglund’s Coen Brothers coverage for Slate
The Facts
Haglund has written three really cool stories on the Coens: a think piece about their entire filmography, an analysis of their ad work and short films, and finally, a piece about ranking their movies.
The Coens have made fifteen features. Haglund considers Fargo their best and The Ladykillers their worst.
The Coens are often described as “polarizing,” but saying you don’t like their work is the quickest way to get a cinephile to stop taking you seriously.
The Daily Notes
For my money, A Serious Man is their most underappreciated work. Not that it will ever reach the iconic status of The Big Lebowski, but one day people are going to catch up with that movie and realize it holds the secrets to the universe, making for a great double bill with Tree of Life.
No Coen fan can resist list making. 1) The Big Lebowski 2) Fargo 3) A Serious Man 4) Raising Arizona 5) Miller’s Crossing 6) Blood Simple 7) Barton Fink  8) O Brother, Where Art Thou? 9) No Country for Old Men 10) The Man Who Wasn’t There 11) True Grit 12) Burn After Reading 13) The Hudsucker Proxy 14) Intolerable Cruelty 15) The Ladykillers
If you could only watch one filmmaker’s catalog for the rest of your life, who doesn’t pick the Coens?

watchingdailies:

8/11

David Haglund’s Coen Brothers coverage for Slate

The Facts

  • The Coens have made fifteen features. Haglund considers Fargo their best and The Ladykillers their worst.
  • The Coens are often described as “polarizing,” but saying you don’t like their work is the quickest way to get a cinephile to stop taking you seriously.

The Daily Notes

  • For my money, A Serious Man is their most underappreciated work. Not that it will ever reach the iconic status of The Big Lebowski, but one day people are going to catch up with that movie and realize it holds the secrets to the universe, making for a great double bill with Tree of Life.
  • No Coen fan can resist list making. 1) The Big Lebowski 2) Fargo 3) A Serious Man 4) Raising Arizona 5) Miller’s Crossing 6) Blood Simple 7) Barton Fink  8) O Brother, Where Art Thou? 9) No Country for Old Men 10) The Man Who Wasn’t There 11) True Grit 12) Burn After Reading 13) The Hudsucker Proxy 14) Intolerable Cruelty 15) The Ladykillers
  • If you could only watch one filmmaker’s catalog for the rest of your life, who doesn’t pick the Coens?
panicandplentitude:

A boy sits amid the ruins of a London bookshop following an air raid on October 8, 1940, reading a book titled “The History of London.”  The Associated Press. (Via the In Focus blog) 

panicandplentitude:

A boy sits amid the ruins of a London bookshop following an air raid on October 8, 1940, reading a book titled “The History of London.”  The Associated Press. (Via the In Focus blog) 

(via housingworksbookstore)