Recommended reading: November edition

For this month: A treatise on the under thirty generation via The Social Network, a nostalgic look back at pre-CGI Hollywood, Kanye West’s “cybernetic” evolution and more.

Generation Why?
The New York Review of Books

Praise has been widespread on David Fincher’s The Social Network, with Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers going so far to declare it the film to define the last decade. Hyperbole aside, it’s rare to see commentary on the film that goes beyond the core plotting and filmmaking elements. That’s what makes writer Zadie Smith’s critique in the The New York Review of Books interesting; she adds some deft insight on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the often enigmatic relationship between the Internet generation (“millennials”, those under 30) and everyone else. As she surmises, The Social Network is “a movie about [generation] 2.0 people made by 1.0 people.” Her filmmaking coverage doesn’t skimp either, examining everything from the film’s dialogue heavy opener (Smith calls it “restless”) to Fincher’s lensing and audio cues at a later club scene.

The Times Paywall and Newsletter Economics

The debate on the actions old media stalwarts like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal should take to survive in an Internet economy is endless. Some push for advertising, others a subscription based paywall, but the there’s little emperical evidence of what actually works. Clay Shirky cuts though the hype, crunching the numbers behind The London Times new subscription based model.

The no nonsense tone and exhaustiveness of Shirky’s analysis reminded me a lot of Nate Silver’s political vote and poll tracking work over at FiveThirtyEight blog. While it’s unlikely Shirky’s impact on journalism will be as substantial as Silver’s breakthrough 2008 election coverage, the piece is a great read nevertheless.

How Hollywood killed the movie stunt

Matt Zoller Seitz is one of my favorite film writers; his knowledge base is exemplary, not to mention his skill extends to multiple mediums, from traditional editorial writing to editing film clip compilations. In his latest Salon column Seitz examines the art of big stunt work that’s been largely missing from today’s CGI laden films.

I really enjoyed the timelessness of the piece. Unlike other “hot” film trends that come and go, unflinching, extended stunt heavy action sequences are already largely gone for good. I’m as nostalgic for them currently as I will be years from now.

Will Germany now take centre stage?
The Economist

Leave it to the dependable Economist to examine one of the major issues defining the EU today: What policy will pull Europe out of its economic morass? Pretty much all eyes are on Germany’s comparatively successful swing back into the black, but will the country’s disciplined approach be replicable across the whole continent? The Economist makes the case for Germany playing the role of reluctant leader, examining economic opinions both inside and outside the borders of the country.

Understanding Kanye: Sweet, Sweet Robot Fantasy, Baby
The Awl

It’s not every day you see a rap artist attend fashion shows, direct a self referential (and maniacally egotistical?) short film and openly filter French house music into his albums. Eclecticism lies at the very heart of rap superstar Kanye West – what the hell drives this guy? The Awl’s Mike Barthel looks beyond the ego to argue, somewhat fantastically, that Kanye has transformed his music from old school sampled hip hop into a robot like, mechanical based form of R&B. The thesis at first glance sounds like some sort of high school paper gone awry, but it’s actually a pretty compelling read, backed by a series of audio clips looking at the evolution of Kanye’s career.