Method Acting Egotism, Rio Surveillance, and Rhea Butcher’s Least Favorite Song: This Week’s Recommended Reading


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. This week, we recommend Angelica Jade Bastién’s piece in the Atlantic about method acting, an article on Fusion about surveillance devices used in the Rio Olympics, an extensive Angel Olsen profile, and more.

Last week, Flavorwire’s film editor Jason Bailey had the displeasure of watching Suicide Squad, and his takeaway was, “Boy, was Jared Leto’s Suicide Squad performance not worth the drama.” It seems that, while pretty much everyone is a little repulsed by the pranks Leto pulled for the sake of character authenticity, no one has really been all that impressed by the product of all the grueling, erm, research. The Atlantic published a piece going deeper into method acting’s history — and how it’s been channeled in today’s film culture into a mix of marketing stunt, ego and machismo. The piece notes some older method actors who didn’t sacrifice their wellbeing, or that of their co-stars, for the job:

The prevalence of the Brando-inspired approach obscures the fact that Hollywood’s best method actor is arguably a woman: Gena Rowlands. Perhaps best known for her work in the ’70s and ’80s, Rowlands didn’t abandon her responsibilities as a mother, friend, and wife in order to create great art. She didn’t starve herself, nearly get hypothermia, or send increasingly disconcerting paraphernalia to her co-stars. But she did create some of the most blistering, and honest performances in films like Opening Night and A Woman Under the Influence…Actors like Leto could take a cue from Rowlands. Her work is proof that performers don’t need to suffer so pronouncedly to move audiences, and, ultimately, to be remembered.

In Fusion, Jathan Sadowski writes about the implications of new (floating) surveillance technologies used for the Rio Olympics, and their potential impact on Rio’s poor:

As crowds gather to watch the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, there will be giant eyes-in-the-sky watching them back. The white orbs floating hundreds of feet above four venues are balloons mounted with 13 high-resolution cameras… Logos Technologies, the company that builds the balloons, calls them “wide area persistent surveillance systems” due to their ability to continuously capture what happens in a city. Initially created for military operations, the Olympics are the first time these aerial systems have been used at a sporting event. But they are only one of many technologies in the advanced arsenal Rio has acquired in order to host this mega-event. Starting with the World Cup, Brazil had contractual obligations to quickly shift towards a corporate urbanism based on surveillance and control, despite little to no input from the public.

Jillian Mapes (full disclosure: a friend and former Flavorwire music editor) profiled Angel Olsen for Pitchfork in advance of the songwriter/musician’s upcoming album, My Woman. The piece gives new insight into Olsen’s work via her familial and professional pasts, and the two discuss industry double standards and the way interviewers have previously tried to pigeonhole Olsen as a “girl at the bottom of a dark well”; but the most profoundly fantastic passages come when Mapes dives into Olsen’s songwriting:

One of the things that makes her most anthemic songs so magnetic in their fight is how they often start so low. Burn Your Fire for No Witness’ “White Fire” has the kind of opening line that sounds comically dramatic when you’re in a good mood and impossibly true when you’re not: “Everything is tragic, it all just falls apart.” The song only grows darker from there, with Olsen—who is adopted—singing, “I heard my mother thinking me right back into my birth.” Yet it is here that she slowly utters the album’s talisman of a title—“burn your fire for no witness, it’s the only way it’s done”—with the tender resignation of someone just coming to grips with the most profound realizations of the self.

The Guardian has run a piece honoring New York new theatre laboratory Dixon Place, focusing on the Hot! Festival, billed as the world’s “longest-running annual LGBTQ festival.” The festival is currently having its 25th anniversary, and the newspaper spoke with Dixon Place’s founder, Ellie Covan and festival headliner Monstah Black about the space’s legacy as an accessible environment for artistic experimentation:

Monstah Black says that Dixon Place enabled him to direct a show and write dialogue for the first time, describing it as “a laboratory for artists, where we can explore new places and new territory and create the chaos without having it in front of us all the time”. The place encourages artists to take risks – to push themselves and their material into places that might be uncomfortable or unknown and to do with with the full embrace of the room…The artistic disarray, however, was one of the chief reasons Covan moved Dixon Place from her former home – a small terraced apartment whose cleared living area served as a stage and a corner kitchen doubled as a bar – eventually into its current abode in the Lower East Side.

This week, for A.V. Club’s column HateSong, the website got Take My Wife star Rhea Butcher to discuss the song she hates “most in the world.” Her choice is “Rude” by Magic! Her reasons are both personal and political:

When this song was popular in 2014, I unfortunately was losing my grandmother. She was passing away. This song was on the radio all the time, and I had a rental car, and so the only thing I could listen to was the radio. So now, because of these jerks, when that song comes on, I think about losing my grandmother. It’s the weirdest song to have that with. It’s not like, “I Will Always Love You,” or something like that where you can be nostalgic for a moment and have memories and stuff. This is a weird ska song that I’m like, “Yeah, no, I’m going to leave this on,” because I remember this hard time, but I also hate this song completely. I also think the lyrics are so sexist and ridiculous. Death of grandmother first, sexist lyrics second.