Vague Visages Writers’ Room: Weekend Vibes 5.18.18

Weekend Vibes is a Friday column about streaming recommendations, new release hype and entertainment events. 

Colin Biggs (@wordsbycbiggs)

“We burned almost every physical book in the country. So, by the time you guys grow up, there won’t be one book left.”

Truth. In a landscape where knowledge is burned to a crisp daily and facts are spoon-fed, there’s little reason to believe in anything. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s tale about safeguards in a dangerous time, has been adapted for TV by HBO, and its release couldn’t be timelier. The cast, led by Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, is quite promising, but the choice of director is not. Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, At Any Price) has a flair for pathos, but his handling of subtext usually results in spoken text — not a comforting thought for fans of one of the more incendiary tales to have become public touchstones. Fahrenheit 451 is a seminal piece of literature, so, naturally, Bahrani has a high bar to clear. The film left the Cannes crowd mixed, yet one still holds out hope after that gorgeous trailer. Watching Jordan burn it all down is enough for escapist fare, but the film’s urgency suggests that, beneath the trippy surfaces, it has a message that has gone unheard recently. Bahrani understands why Fahrenheit 451 is important to today’s culture, so here’s hoping he can translate that cinematically.

Fahrenheit 451 debuts on HBO May 19.

D.M. Palmer (@mrdmpalmer)

However much Wim Wenders’ recent fictional output has disappointed me, I keep returning in the hope he manages to recapture some vestige of what made him a master throughout the 70s and 80s. His latest release, Submergence, seems to offer little hope of a renaissance; but on a perverse level, it may be interesting to see how Wenders handles such prosaic material. Wenders may fancy this as his Rescue Dawn (2006), but it appears to be a throwaway tale of heroism and romance with two big stars, providing Wenders with a decent payday between his more engaging documentary projects. Having said that, his next project claims to be “a personal journey with Pope Francis.” The mind boggles.

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough)

Five years ago, I revisited The Wire on HBO, and I’m currently halfway through my third binge-watch. The entire series touches on personal codes of honor, but Season 3 is especially affecting as both cops and robbers push way too far in the name of justice; a Baltimore neighborhood (nicknamed “Hamsterdam”) becomes a safe zone for dealers and addicts (to keep other spots clean), while a noted criminal gets ambushed on a Sunday morning (in the company of his mother). The central figures show common courtesy and also find ways to work around it, but they all acknowledge that a code — a specific form of common courtesy — exists. In other words, they communicate to better understand each other, rather than saying nothing at all… tough feedback and tough love.

Constructive criticism is a good thing, but for those not receptive to such feedback, it might feel like a personal attack. It’s all in the game, I guess… all in the delivery.