Reel Words: Tilda Swinton Might Be a David Bowie Clone, How the MPAA Really Works, and the Most Famous Tree in East L.A.

The week’s best movie writing

Tilda Swinton’s AMA at Reddit
What does it take for us to link to a Reddit AMA? Tilda Swinton. Her best response to a question during the “ask me anything” session involves her possible origin as a clone of David Bowie. In case you’re apprehensive about Reddit’s nightmarish interface, the link leads to a site that collects only the questions and answers from AMAs and puts them in an easy-to-read format. 

How The MPAA Really Works And How to Get The Rating You Want by Paula Bernstein at Indiewire
Barry Freeman and Howard Fridkin are former members of the ratings board at the MPAA. Together, they’ve opened a consulting firm to help filmmakers get the ratings they want for their movies. They will advise directors on how to make as few edits to their work as possible in order to get a PG-13 instead of a R or a R instead of a NC-17. Paula Bernstein interviewed Freeman and Fridkin about their insider knowledge of the ratings system.

Age of Exhaustion: The Year of the Self-Loathing Summer Movie by Alex Pappedemas at Grantland
As Alex Pappedemas sees it, there’s a definite trend in 2014’s big movies: a meta-awareness of audience expectations that results in a strange feeling of self-consciousness. Astonishingly, he’s able to make a pretty good case that the new Transformers movie has something smart to say, even if it’s purposefully, aggressively stupid while it says it.

An Interview with Kenneth Anger by Harmony Korine at Interview
“If a book such as this can be said to have charm, it lies in the fact that here is a book without one single redeeming merit.” That’s what one critic wrote of Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, a collection of tales about Hollywood scandals that was banned ten days after its original 1965 release in English. Anger has also been making avant-garde and experimental films for nearly 70 years, and now fellow cinematic provocateur Harmony Korine has sat down with him for an interview about his life and work.

How Brando Broke the Movies by Tom Shone at The Atlantic
Marlon Brando made method acting cool and in the process made it the default style for thespians seeking acclaim, respect, and awards. Tom Shone examines Brando’s on-screen quirks and how his technique set the stage for an entirely different kind of film performance. He calls it acting as a special effect, something that’s to be admired instead of something to convince the audience.

A Tree’s Cinematic Fame Continues to Grow in East LA by Hector Becerra at The Los Angeles Times
There are hundreds of buildings that have been made famous by the movies. There are geological features, quirky landmarks, and monuments that we recognize from media as well. But a tree? It turns out that a particular bunya pine in East Los Angeles has become a cult icon ever since its appearance in the crime drama Blood In Blood Out more than 20 years ago. The story of El Pino Famoso is a delightful bit of L.A. folklore that deserves to be shared.