Yesterday, on my 4 a.m. cab ride to the infamous Ithaca airport, I got into an accident. It was snowing heavily, and my cab skidded onto the other side of the road, making a 180 before slipping into a ditch off the highway. It was a truly bizarre experience. I felt as though the whole thing happened in slow motion. I remember screaming; yet, I don’t remember being afraid.
“The donning of sackcloth and ashes for this once-mighty art form is an annual ritual,” wrote New York Times film critic A.O. Scott in a recent piece on the Telluride Film Festival, a yearly retreat for filmmakers and critics alike that also serves as a debut for many of the fall’s most anticipated films. He goes on to posit the festival as a “standing rebuke” to the “fatalism and gloom” of critics who would suggest cinema’s death, boldly going so far as to include hyperlinks to Huffington Post and GQ articles with which he took direct issue. (As spectators, all we can really hope for is that the opposing sides drop diss tracks about one another.) Scott, who serves alongside Manohla Dargis as the Times’ chief film critic, claims that Telluride standouts like Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann provide testimony to the medium’s ongoing vitality. Of the latter, he writes, “It’s something new under the sun, a thrilling and discomfiting document of the present and also, like every movie that matters, a bulletin from the future.”
Forward motion, then, and an eye toward progress seem Scott’s criteria for a worthy cinematic experience. Yet the critic speaks with a certain tone of nostalgia, waxing lyrical about the “old-time cinephile religion” and “cathedrals of cinema,” invoking a religiosity around the film-going experience that grants a sense of urgency to the art form. Scott seems determined to fight a one-man war in support of his cinematic ideals, and to simultaneously convince us of criticism’s essential role in our relationship to art.
Michael Moss, a New York Times investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner, spoke about his effort to expose harmful impacts of the processed food industry and its advertising strategies in a lecture Wednesday. Moss drew heavily from his 2013 book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Fast Food Giants Hooked Us in his talk. He recalled reporting on the Iraq War in 2008 for the New York Times when he said his editor assigned him to write about a salmonella outbreak in the U.S. caused by tainted peanuts from the Peanut Corporation of America. “These peanuts were being used as ingredients in this $1 trillion processed food industry about which we really know very little,” Moss said. “That outbreak became the story about how that industry had lost control over its food chain.”
Moss said this first experience with food safety reporting later led him to report on an E. Coli outbreak in Minneapolis in 2007, food industry.
February 14th, Valentine’s Day. Some people call it SAD (Singles Awareness Day) and others use it as an excuse to make their significant other reaffirm their love through consumerism and diabetic means. The talk of love and romance over the past few days has led me to question today’s relationships. With such a prevalent “hook-up culture,” and technological distractions, I found myself thinking, when do we talk? When do we have real talk, meaningful talk, big talk?