The Making of ‘Crossroads,’ Photographs as Memories, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading

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Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. Today we have a piece in The New Republic that looks into the long cultural history of photographs as memory, Broadly talks to Shonda Rhimes, writer of Crossroads, on the making of the film, a writer relives Cloverfield and asks “what the hell” it is, anyway, and a musician finds inspiration in Montana, and so does a writer for The Atlantic.

At The New Republic , writer Lauren Walsh uses a new book by photojournalist Ron Haviv as a jumping off point into the history of photographs as memory, including a deep exploration of what the idea has meant to contemporary writers. It’s especially interesting as Haviv’s new book presents photographs that were taken with a journalistic intent, though in the book they’re presented without context and so take on an extremely eerie quality.

Many of the photographs in The Lost Rolls were shot as photojournalistic documents, but in the book they appear in an artistic context, stripped of their journalistic information. Several of the images were chosen for this project precisely because they have—with time, wear, and destruction—aged into something that visually begs us to consider them with a fine arts sensibility, as with the cover image for this book that looks almost as if flames of live fire lick its edges.

At Broadly, a comprehensive history with the writers, producers, and director of the 2002 Britney Spears classic Crossroads, including Shonda Rhimes, who has gone on to achieve great things in the world of television. The piece has such a nice tone and is such an easy read, it’s like watching Crossroads for the fifth time. The best bits of it comes in the revelation that Britney was not a diva, and that all she wanted on set were Lunchables and edamame.

But despite her massive fandom, Britney was easy to work with. “She was not remotely like people’s expectations of a young, teen star,” Gale, the executive producer, told me. She even reminded him of another young star. “I did Beyonce’s second film, The Fighting Temptations. That was a really sweet, great, wonderful Beyonce. A dream to work with. Talk about people who are such megastars now, in their early careers especially: They were really professional and really serious about their craft. They weren’t at all diva-like.”

In “Listening to Montana,” Deborah Fallows takes inspiration from her friends, Phil and Patty Aaberg, who live in Chester, Montana. She visits the couple — Phil is a musician — and comes to find that the smaller the town someone is from, the more of an imprint that town comes to have on that person’s future.

When Aaberg is touring on the road, he builds in time to teach a little music to the schoolkids in the towns. He includes listening exercises, having the kids pause to just listen to the sounds around them for a whole minute. “Listening is the most important thing you can do,” he tells them. “If people in the world would listen to each other, the world would be a lot safer place.”

At KillScreen, which is quickly becoming a favorite of “Recommended Reading,” an essay that remembers the premiere of the original Cloverfield film, and asks just what the hell it was, anyway? Much has been said about the recent spiritual sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane, but few pieces have taken such a personal and historical approach.

Cloverfield (2008), as a film, is inextricable from the marketing that preceded it, indebted to that mystique attributed to the stewardship of one J.J. Abrams. Say what you will about his hit-or-miss track record as a showrunner of television action-dramas, there’s one quality as a producer that Abrams has ingrained so intuitively well—it has become the defining mark of his professional success.