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'The Beaver' is coming to SXSW , but will Mel Gibson?

Rebecca Keegan
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — "The Beaver," Jodie Foster's drama that features Mel Gibson as a depressed man who reinvents himself with the help of a beaver hand puppet, will have its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) in March.

Gibson's public meltdown — and its uncomfortable proximity to "The Beaver's" subject matter — has ignited an enormous amount of curiosity about the film. But festival organizers, who announced the premiere Thursday, said it was Foster's direction that won them over.

"We didn't want to become involved with a film that would hijack our festival with tabloid noise," said SXSW Film Conference and Festival producer Janet Pierson. "But we were completely moved by the film itself. It's a tough topic and incredibly well realized."

Foster, who directs and stars in the movie, will appear at the festival. "This is her chance to stand behind her work," Pierson said. "Her work has sort of gotten lost in this personal circumstance." It has not been determined yet whether Gibson will attend, Pierson said.

The Austin, Texas, festival also will cement its reputation for pop-culture-centric documentaries when it kicks off March 11 for its nine-day run.

"Conan O'Brien Can't Stop," about the 32-city stand-up tour the talk-show host embarked on after his much-publicized separation from NBC, will have its world premiere there. "The filmmakers had unparalleled access to a late-night host as he was making a major transition in his life," Pierson said, adding that the festival this year received 1,700 submissions for 130 feature-film slots.

Two more docs making their world premieres in Austin are "It's About You," a chronicle of John Mellencamp's summer 2009 tour, directed by photographer Kurt Markus and his son, Ian; and "Square Grouper," a portrait of Miami's 1970s pot-smuggling scene.

Other films announced Thursday are geared to Austin's genre-friendly audiences. "The Innkeepers," Ti West's ghost story about two hotel clerks who set out to prove the place they work is haunted, will have its world premiere, and "Paul," a Universal Pictures comedy in which Simon Pegg and Nick Frost embark on a road trip to the U.S.' UFO heartland, will play for North American audiences for the first time.

These films join SXSW's previously announced 2011 opening-night film, "Source Code," directed by Duncan Jones and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The rest of the festival's lineup will be announced in early February.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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