Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado on Capturing ‘The Salt of the Earth’

Salt of the Earth, Film, Wim Wenders

“My reason from the beginning, and why I made this, is that I like something so much and want to share it with other people. That, in the end, is the basic drive,” says iconic German filmmaker Wim Wenders when speaking to me about his Academy Award-nominated documentary Salt of the Earth. As an essential presence in cinema for nearly a half-century, in recent years it’s Wenders’ documentary features—such as 2011s Pina—that have begun garnering as much acclaim as his incredible body of narrative films. Whether it’s his Palme d’Or-winning masterpiece of endless longing Paris, Texas, his an existential poem of morality Wings of Desire, or an innovative ode to Pina Bausch with Pina, Wenders’ films possess a melancholy and emotional undercurrent that stems from his complex passion for his subjects.


With The Salt of the Earth, Wenders collaborated with filmmaker Juliano Ribeiro Salgado to investigate the life and work of his father, acclaimed photographer Sebastião Salgado. For over four decades, Sebastião has been traveling the world on an artistic and anthropological mission to capture the ever-changing face of humanity. Through his beguiling black-and-white photos, featured in his countless photo series and books, he has witnessed many of the major historical world events of the last 50 years—his journey as a photographer and the experiences he’s endured on his travels as harrowing and emotionally devastating as they have been rewarding. Now in a new period of his ever-evolving career, Sebastião is embarking on an epic project to re-discover nature’s beauty across the globe, and to restore the land on which he was raised in Brazil.

Composed of Sebastião’s photographic work, his expeditions into some of the most undiscovered locations in the world, and intimate meditations on his emotional and artistic experience, The Salt of the Earth beautifully merges Wenders and Juliano’s sensibilities as filmmakers. Visually-stunning in its own right, we’re given, not only a look at Sebastião’s staggering work, but a portrait of the man behind the images and strength in which it took to make them come to life.

A few months back, I sat down with Wenders and Juliano to discuss their rocky collaborative beginnings, the injustice of aestheticizing misery, and their necessary radical approach.

Juliano, how and why did you decide upon this project as your next film? Did you have any reservations about making a film about your father and penetrating the artistic space between the two of you?

Juliano Ribeiro Salgado: That’s the most difficult question you could ask, actually. I didn’t want to make a film about my father, I thought it was too early to actually get there. But there was a succession of happy events that led to making the film. In 2009 Wim came through with some Italian friends and my father called me and told me, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

Wim Wenders: Yes, it all started when I met Sebastião in 2009. These Italian friends of mine knew him, and I told them it was a crying shame that for a long time he had been my favorite photographer yet we had never met. So I asked them if they could make a connection. When we met, there was no thought of a movie, it was strictly to get to know each other. [turns to Juliano] Then I met you at this dinner. Father and son had a project going and Father and German friend were about to eventually have a project going, and then we threw all our cards together. We just tried to make our lies match. We have different recollections of how it all started.

I take it you knew of Wim’s work before to meeting him.

JRS: Of course, he’s an amazing filmmaker. His films have marked me very strongly—Alice in the Cities, The State of Things, Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas, and Pina. Not only is he a great filmmaker, but he’s one of the great documentary filmmakers as well. So I wanted to do something with Sebastião, but at the time I felt it was a bit dangerous for me to get that close to my dad. We went to Brazil together and I was following him as he was doing one of his Genesis projects. I really didn’t want to go, because I thought it would just be him and I and something would go wrong, but I filmed him and things were actually quite nice. When I came back I showed him the footage I’d edited and he was very touched. Something started happening through those images, so I traveled with him again.

How did you collaborate while shooting and merge your footage?

WW: We didn’t.

JRS: Well we did, but that was four years after that meeting. 

WW: It was four years because we never shot together. He did his shoot mostly in remote places and I did my shoot in Paris and Brazil over the years.

JRS: Sometimes we shot in Brazil at the same time but with a different crew. However, we had an intuition in common. So what really made the bond or the link between us was the common idea that the stories Sebastião tells in the film, when we comes back from his trips, they had a very powerful message. Also, there was something to transmit from those stories about his experience that was unique. Although we didn’t know how we were going to shoot it, there was this idea that those stories, mixed with the photography, was a very important thing to share and it could be very powerful cinematic material—the sounds, the voice, those images, all subjective. So we started with this idea and we had a faint idea of what the general story would be, but it really all happened between the edits and the shoots.

Did the film’s structure come about as it went along or did that happen in the editing process?

WW: We didn’t have a structure; we both shot as much as he could. Each of his shoots had a structure in itself because of where they traveled, but combined with my shoots, it didn’t make a movie. There wasn’t an arc and it didn’t have dramaturgy, so we only started to make a movie together when we were editing and realized we’d never make a common movie that way. With his material and mine it would never be a movie unless we took a radical approach. 

JRS: It was actually really difficult to share and sit together and decide on the cuts and the content. It’s quite unusual, as a director, you never have someone that’s doing exactly the same thing. It took us a year.

WW: And you don’t want anyone else to tell you where to cut. We didn’t get along for a while, then we realized if we could possibly get along we would make a much better movie than each of us could do alone.

Wim, can you tell me about the first time you came across Sebastião’s work and why it moved you so strongly?

WW: Rewind to the late 80’s. I didn’t know the name Salgado, and I didn’t know his work. I lived in Los Angeles and walked by this gallery on La Brea Avenue, saw these photographs in the window, and went straight in. These were pictures from the Goldmine series. They were in the window of the gallery, and I went inside and saw the whole series. As it was a commercial gallery, I decided to buy one. It took me a while to decide because they were all fabulous, and this photographer was really something. I thought he must have been a great adventurer because you don’t make a series like this in a place that insane if not. So then I bought this print and as I was about to leave, the gallerist got cocky and told me there were more pictures of his and pulled another series from the drawer. Those were pictures from very different scenery with a very different subject. 

Shooting in the goldmine was adventurous, but the subjects in those photographs were there on their own free will. It was wild, it was the wild west in Brazil. But these other pictures were from a very different place and from a humane mission to report on the famine. This series touched me even more than the Goldmine series and I walked out of the gallery with two prints—which was far more than I could have possibly spent, but I wanted these two pictures and have lived with them in my room ever since. I hung them right away and for a while those were the only two pictures I had hanging in my work room. They traveled with me whenever I moved. From then on I made sure I knew all his books and exhibitions. I actually almost met him once in Brazil in the 90’s. There was a rumor that he was somewhere and I was in Brazil at the time, so I made an effort but as it turned out he had already left again.

JRS: When you go to Wim’s place in Berlin, the first thing you see in his office is actually the photo of that lady in Sahel

WW: She’s traveled with me for a long time.

In your documentaries, the subjects that you choose are other artists, those whose work has hit you in a very visceral way. Would you say what compels you to make these films is a desire to explore the depths of the work of someone you admire, as well as to understand just why they’ve affected you so?

WW: There are a lot of reasons to make a documentary, and for a lot of people, it’s because they don’t agree with something or they want to shed light on an issue that needs attention. Sometimes it’s criticism, which is an important reason to want to make a documentary, but my reason from the beginning, and why I made this, is that I like something so much and want to share it with other people. That, in the end, is the basic drive. That’s why I went to Cuba for Buena Vista or Tokyo to meet Yohji or Wuppertal to shoot with Pina and Paris for Sebastião. I want to spread a virus that caught me, these good viruses. I seriously think the last great adventure left on this earth is the adventure of creation more than anything else. I’m very curious how other people in different professions get there and how they have their creative adventure.

Juliano, your mother has always been a tremendous driving force in your father’s work yet is considerably less known. Was it important for you to honor that and show her influence?

JRS: There are two things. One is that my parents really shared a lot of their decisions together, as we say in the film. They shared life decisions and artistic decisions—how to conceptualize the work, what photos to choose, etc. She designs the books, chooses the sequences for the books, but also the exhibits. There’s also all the things we don’t speak about in the movie, like Sebastião not being there for a long time, but she was always there, and she’s really the center point for all this family story. So she was very, very important, but usually people don’t want to know about her because they only want to know about who took the photos. So it was very important for us to bring her back into the picture and make her part of the story, which is only fair.

After all, it was with her camera that he took his first photo.

JRS: Yeah, he took her camera and never gave it back.

How did you both go about sorting through Sebastião’s entire lifetime of work and settling on the series and photographs you wanted to expound upon?

JRS: We had two shoots. There was Wim speaking with Sebastião about all the books, and then the second shoot was more specific—and that’s when Wim had the great idea of bringing Sebastião behind the teleprompter and isolating him from the rest of the crew and just showing the photos. We had to select a number of reportage that would tell his story, so at this moment there had already been a time when we had to choose the photos that were significant enough. It was a lot of pictures that were very tough and a lot of moments that were very difficult, but we didn’t want to have a naive point of view of the work. Sebastião had seen the work for what it is and it’s very important to show that experience fully.

How did he feel about revisiting these photographs and delving back into some of his most painful memories?

WW: I worked with him mainly in Paris. We did these interviews, slowly covering the entire range of his work for a couple of weeks, and they were done conventionally. But in these two weeks, I realized that he was a great storyteller and was much better when he forgot I was there, when he forgot the cameras were there, and when he was really in his memory. This obviously wasn’t the first time he’d told these stories in his life, and somehow with this conventional method, it was less impressive than when he’d forget we were all there and it would be very intense. So I kept thinking about how we could get more to the core of that and how I can get him to forget talking to me and the camera, how he could enter his own past and the photos more purely and have a rapport with the audience instead of me and the camera. 

Then one night, I don’t know how I came up with it, but I thought of the teleprompter, or a reformed teleprompter where there was not text on it but photographs. The beauty of the teleprompter is that it is invisible, so Sebastião only saw his own images and he was in a dark room. He did not see the camera, he did not see another person, and I could operate the photographs from behind a computer. So together with Juliano, we made a selection. We realized we couldn’t do another round with every photo, as I knew everything from the first passage, now we had a more concentrated approach.

Seeing the photos on their own, one usually identifies with the subject, feeling the emotion they’re portraying and reacting to the subject’s experience. However, your film explores something we don’t usually see, which is how affected the person taking the photo is—was that an idea that intrigued you?

WW: That is an important argument, because you might know, Sebastião, for his entire life, has had to fight the reproach that he was aestheticizing misery. So if you work with him and you present him with his work, you realize that not even for a single second does he talk about aesthetics, framing, or beauty. He strictly talks about the people—that’s his only interest. He’s identifies incredibly with them, so you find a complete lack of any aesthetic intention. It comes out of him, and he has, of course, the experience and it’s built into his blood, but he’s not driven by it at all. That’s when you realize how bloody wrong and how intellectually wrong the approach of aestheticizing misery really is; it is out of the minds of people who cannot identify with other people and that’s their problem.

JRS: Sebastião real talent is not the black and white or the compositions, it’s, as Wim said, spending a lot of time with the people. He has relationships and friendships with these people, he feels their hope or hopelessness, and he can sense when something is funny or scary. Whatever way he’s feeling in the much more complex emotional palette, he’s capable of putting the camera on that. When you see the photo, you see what he’s seeing most of the time. They’re beautiful, and there is a real bond, so that’s what you’re seeing in these people—his admiration or empathy.

Coming into the film, where you interested in exploring the father/son aspect of the story?

WW: No, because it was really their own subject. I saw it, I watched it, and sometimes felt it was good that I was there as a third person present to keep them from digging too deep into the father son relationship. In a strange way it was a whole issue on its own. There are some movies like My Architect, but it very quickly becomes the central thing, and from the beginning we realized and agreed that it shouldn’t be the focus. Being the son gave him different access and a different point of view for his father, but we all thought it shouldn’t become a driving force behind the film. It was good that I was sometimes there because the two of them could have gotten lost in father / son issues, which any father and son would get any time they work on something. 

JRS: My relationship with Sebastião actually changed after the making of the film, and it came through the presence of a third person and the fact that Wim was here and that he had shot all of these scenes where Sebastião is telling his story. When we edited the four hour long cut, seeing rough of the rough cut of all those interviews and watching him understanding all those things he went through, something clicked at that point. When we met again we were at a different stage of our relationship and we became friends. So somehow, for me, Wim’s presence was so necessary. 

11 Great Filmmakers Who Have Never Won the Academy Award for Best Director

Photo via the Criterion Collection

With the 87th Academy Awards commencing this Sunday, we’re reminded that artistic merit does not always mean taking home a gold statue. Simply because a film wins the award of Hollywood’s elite, does not be that it creatively surpasses its contemporaries. And just because a film goes unrecognized by the Academy, the lack of appreciation in that regard says little to what it deserves. This year, director Ava DuVernay went sans nomination for Selma, but over the course of cinematic history, few categories have caused as much of a stir as Best Director. From Stanley Kubrick and Wim Wenders to Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch, some of the last century’s most brilliant artists have failed to move past a nomination, if even given that—which, of course, speaks namely to the politics of Hollywood and not to their respective genius. So, to get you thinking about who will find themselves with arms full of gold on Sunday, here are some of film’s most beloved and talented directors who’ve never garnered the coveted Academy Award for Best Director.


Cinematic Obsessions: Casual Voyeurism,  Everyday Detectives, Seedy Underbelly’s Lurking Behind Pleasant Facades, What’s Hiding Behind the Red Curtains, Flesh on Flesh, 1950s Music and Ephemera, Psycho-Erotic Discomfort, Multiple Personalities, Saccharine Indulgences, Trout, Coffee, The Mysteries of Love, The Secret of Night
Best Director Nominations: Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, Elephant Man
Best Films: Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart


Cinematic Obsessions: Man versus Technology, Man versus Himself, The Theatrics of Violence, Psychological Journeys Through the Use of Color, Meticulous Planning and Shooting, Psychosexual Aggression
Best Director: Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove or: How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Best Films: A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove or: How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining


Cinematic Obsessions: Dramatic Musical Cues, Languid and Beauitful Slow-Motion Shots, Wresting Weary Heads on Shoulders in the Back of Taxis, Endless Romantic Yearning, Food, Lonesome Cigarette Smoking, Deep and Impressionist Use of Color, The Torture of Love, Heartbreaking Matters of Timing
Best Director Nominations: None
Best Films: In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, 2046


Cinematic Obsessions: The Great American West, Existential Romantic Longing, The Barriers of Human Connection, Transient Spaces, Child/Parent Dynamics, The Psycholoigcal Effects of Neon, Spirituality and a Nostalgic Longing for an Absent Something, Emotional Isolation
Best Director Nominations: None
Best Films: Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire, Alice in the Cities, Pina


Cinematic Obsessions: Exposed Realism, Psycho-Dramatic Character Studies, New York City Streets, Manicly Delivered Male Monologues, Exposure of Social/Societial Injustice/Disorder
Best Director Nominations: The Verdict, Network, Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men
Best Films: Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Serpico, 12 Angry Men


Cinematic Obsessions: Existential Questioning of Faith and Mortality, Female Sexuality and Desire, Looming Presence of Death, Moral Quandries and Crisis, Psychological Horror
Best Director Nominations: Fanny and Alexander, Autumn Sonata, Face to Face, Cries & Whispers, Through a Glass Darkly, Wild Strawberries
Best Films: Persona, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Cries & Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage, Winter Light


Cinematic obsessions: Wheat fields Gently Blowing in the Wind at Magic Hour, Sweeping Philosophical Voiceovers, The Confounding Nature of Existence, The Evils of Man, The Divine Presence in Everyday Life, Examining Humility and Grace Through Love, Man’s Existence with Nature Through Time, Redemption and Forgiveness
Best Director Nominations: The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line
Best Films: Days of Heaven, Badlands, The Tree of Life


Cinematic Obsessions: Rotating Character Studies, Emphasis of Atmosphere and Personalities Over Narrative Structure, Improvisation of Script, Multiple Plotlines, Intersection of Worlds, Music as a Driving Force
Best Director Nominations: Gosford Park, Short Cuts, Nashville, MASH, The Player
Best Films: 3 Women, The Long Goodbye, Nashville, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, MASH, Gosford Park


Cinematic Obsessions: The Psyche of Men, Matters of the Heart, The Struggle and Pain of Human Relationships, Alcohol, Volatility of Emotion, Expression of the Artistic Self, Characterization, Raw Performance, Love
Best Director Nominations: A Woman Under the Influence
Best Films: A Woman Under the Influence, Opening Night, Faces, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie


Cinematic Obsessions: Surrealist Imagery, Exposure of Cinematic Experimentation, Bourgeois Dinner Parties That Never Go As Planned, Satiristic Comedies of Fantasy, Criticism of Morals and Religion, Mocking of the Church, Nonsynchronous Music
Nominations for Best Director: The Obscure Object of Desire, The Discreet Charm of the Boregeoisie
Best Films: The Exterminating Angel, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeois, Un Chien Andalou, Belle Du Jour


Cinematic obsessions: The Audience as a Voyeur, The Charms of Sociopathy, A Little Murder After Supper, Mommy Complexes, The Relationship Between Sex and Death
Nominations for Best Director: Psycho, Rear Window, Spellbound, Lifeboat, Rebecca
Best Films: Spellbound, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rebecca, Psycho

Taylor Mead at Last Night’s Bingo, Addressing the Adam Hock-Prince Pierre Casiraghi Brawl

The Academy Awards were delicious. I enjoyed the show, the choice of movies, the actors featured, and most of Billy Crystal’s schtick. I especially enjoyed watching it at home with delicious popcorn and other treats and my delicious Amanda. Foregoing the bull-chit banter and bad hors d’oeuvres at some Oscar party is the way to go. Although I was aware of The Artist for eons before it came out and wanted to go day 1… life got in the way and so I vowed to go last night and nothing was going to stop me.

Monday is of course BINGO night at Bowery Poetry Club. If you want to whack me or serve me with papers or get my autograph, you can find me there. I sit up front and personal so I can catch every delicious word from co-hosts Murray Hill and Linda Simpson. This Monday night happening needs no plug from me as it sells out virtually every night and has for years. I arrive very early to wind down from my day jobs and  to catch 87-year-old Taylor Mead. Taylor is best known as an Andy Warhol luminary, but he is so much more. It wasn’t Andy that made Taylor fabulous…he was fabulous so Andy wanted to have him around. Google him…find out more…or come around 6pm on any Monday to catch him reading from his life’s work.
One of the highlights of Taylor’s schtick is the reminiscing about his life less ordinary. Last night, he told of a play he was in in Boston back in the ’70s. He found himself late-night in Chinatown at a table with actor John Cazale (Fredo in The Godfather, Deer Hunter, Dog Day Afternoon) and Meryl Streep. Meryl was dating Mr. Cazale, who died young, of cancer. She was unknown and quiet then and Taylor thought she was sort of dull, "like a statue." He lamented not quite breaking it to the big time because "I never sold out… Elizabeth Taylor, Meryl Streep all sold out. I never sold out…I tried to… I spent three months with her, everyday." It continues like this for around 45 minutes as the BINGO crowd comes in and are blown away by this frail man and his sharp mind. A satchel containing loose notes sits beside him while a small boombox plays Mingus, to underscore his dirty poems. He randomly pulls art and poetry and notes from the satchel, reads them, and goes off on delicious tangents. He says that Harvard is taking his papers this summer. They currently occupy garbage bags in his cramped apartment. He says he is hesitating, as a friend has told him Harvard will just bury the work. Talk raced from the 30th anniversary of the Faukland Islands war between Argentina and Great Britain and chance sexual encounters of days of yore. Taylor has been particularly brilliant recently as the full room seems to have inspired him. Let me know if you’re coming and I’ll save you a seat.
Murray Hill will be around for a bit but will soon scoot off to tour with Dita Von Teese on the West Coast. BINGO on Mondays at Bowery Poetry Club is the best game in town. After BINGO, I scooted off to see The Artist and, of course, was blown away. The big movies at this years Oscars were not box office bonanzas. The Artist has taken in under $40 million, The Descendents with Clooney star power under $80 million, and films like Iron Lady and The Tree of Life appealing to smaller audiences than the big films of years ago, like Titanic, Avatar, Star Wars and all that romantic comedy stuff that make bank. For instance, Bridesmaids is up around $288 million. Hollywood gold went to more artistic fare, less commercial offerings. The art of making big money on your art is a very Warholian concept.  I’m going to buy Taylor a drink next Monday and discuss.
I have been asked to write something clever about the brawl between clubber Adam Hock and Prince Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco at The Double Seven last week. I started my research by calling The Double Seven’s Mark Baker to get the inside scoop. Baker was speechless – not a common occurrence for him. He referred me to Jeffrey Jah who reportedly was there when the shit hit the fan-tastic Prince and his entourage or vice versa, depending on whose PR has the ear of what publication. I have been told there was blood but not a lot of real guts displayed by anyone involved. A big guy hit a famous, fabulous, and rich guy and others meekly or weakly got involved. My old pal Sal Strazzullo is the attorney that will try to help Adam Hock stay out of jail and not have to hock everything he owns to settle a possible lawsuit. Sal said in the Daily News that the Prince and his pals "think New York is their honeycomb. They think they can come here and do whatever they want".
I’ve never been a fan of Adam Hock but don’t have anything against him either, but the spin Strazullo puts on it makes Adam seem like a hero in the eyes of the hoi polloi. He is our champion. It was almost his sacred duty punching out those rich famous young people making all that noise. Sal continued: "They wanted some recognition [from the women] and it happened because of that. My client acted in self -defense, it was an unprovoked attack. I don’t know why Mr Casiraghi got jealous about my client – he is from a humble background." He added: "My client is not Bruce Lee… These four guys are trust-fund babies who think the world is owed to them. They are like spoiled brats."
I decided not to look for the truth. My time would be better served by ignoring this raging bull-chit and seeing another movie nominated for the Oscars, like Iron Lady. I think Margaret and probably Meryl could kick all their asses. If I got it right, according to the attorney, it seems that Adam Hock did what we all secretly yearn to do: what needed to be done and about time at that. He did it for us all. Those royals and their buddies and their beautiful women better behave…or else. There might be some truth in that, but on the other hand Adam might have actually behaved badly. I won’t seek the truth because I suspect that old Oscar buddy Jack Nicholson got it right… I can’t handle the truth. Now that’s entertainment.

Watch the First Trailer for Academy Award-Winning Director Asghar Farhadi’s ‘The Past’

In 2012, Asghar Farhadi took home the Academy Award for Best Foreign film with the incredible A Separation. Roger Ebert ranked the film #1 on his list for the year, calling it, "one of those enduring masterpieces watched decades from now." And that same year, the Academy Award also went to silent beauty, The Artist, which starred the charming Bérénice Bejo. And now, we finally have the trailer for Farhadi’s follow-up, a drama stars none other than Bejo in a very different role than we’ve last seen her. The film follows "an Iranian man (Ali Mosaffa) who goes back to his home country after wanting a divorce from his wife in France, but when he returns, he finds that his significant other has moved on." So although the trailer isn’t subtitled, take a look and also check out the new poster for the film, which is expected to premiere at Cannes next month.


Looking Ahead to the 2014 Oscar Season

The 86th and 87th annual Academy Awards dates were announced this morning, and next year, the ceremony looks to fall slightly later. This year’s mid-February ceremony was a welcome relief to incessant campaigns and chatter about certain films, but in 2014, the show will be help on March 2nd, with a February 22nd air date for the following year. And although we’ve got about ten more months of films to be released and annoucned, there are already quite a few we’re excited for that will most likely and/or hopefully continue to gain recoginition. But we all know awards really mean nothing in the way of artistic merit—case in point—so here’s mainly just a list of movies we like or intend on enjoying in 2013.

to the wonder

To the Wonder
The Counselor


Twelve Years a Slave
August: Osage County
Only God Forgives


I’m So Excited
Wolf of Wallstreet
The Iceman


The Place Beyond the Pines
The Fifth Estate
Frances Ha
Laurence Anyways


Before Midnight
Upstream Color
The Great Gatsby
Inside Llewyn Davis


‘Argo’ Continues to Piss Off the Rest of the World

Sure, Iran might be suing Hollywood over how much they hated Argo, but that makes sense as Iran doesn’t really come across as cool guys in the movie. But now New Zealand is pissed off. Yes, New Zealand, as a whole, is so angry about Argo!

Now, you may be thinking, "Wait, did New Zealand have anything to do with Argo?" That is what I thought! And that is part of the problem, it seems. You see, New Zealand is mentioned once in the movie—CIA agent Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston) tells Tony Mendez (played by the film’s director, Ben Affleck) that "the Kiwis" turned the American refugees away, forcing them to shack up with the Canadians. (The Canadians, by the way, are also mad about Argo.)

Naturally, the New Zealand Parliament has passed a motion claiming that Ben Affleck ""saw fit to mislead the world about what actually happened":

The strong reaction in New Zealand indicates the country remains insecure about its own culture, said Steve Matthewman, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Auckland. People are prone to bouts of unwarranted outrage when somebody from abroad says something bad about the country, he said, and simpering enjoyment when they say something good.

"It’s touched a really raw nerve," Matthewman said. "We do seem in New Zealand to be oversensitive to how the rest of the world perceives us."

The movie’s New Zealand reference may not be totally fair but has an element of truth.

Some in New Zealand have taken those words – "Kiwis turned them away" – as implying the country did nothing to help. Published interviews indicate that diplomats from Britain and New Zealand did help by briefly sheltering the Americans, visiting them and bringing them food, even driving them to the airport when they left.

Yet those interviews also indicate that both countries considered it too risky to shelter the Americans for long. That left the Canadians shouldering the biggest risk by taking them in.

Lawmaker Winston Peters, who brought last week’s uncontested motion before Parliament, said New Zealanders are unfairly portrayed as "a bunch of cowards," an impression that would be given to millions who watch the movie.

"It’s a diabolical misrepresentation of the acts of courage and bravery, done at significant risk to themselves, by New Zealand diplomats," he said.

Soon, Austria will file a suit against everyone associated with Argo because it beat Amour for the Best Picture Oscar. And New Orleans will cecede from the nation, claiming Beasts of the Southern Wild was robbed. Afghanistan will be all, "Hey guys, can y’all just stop bombing us? Make movies, not bombs!" Switzerland will stay neutral, obviously, but will probably enjoy all of this.

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Halle Berry Was Totally Cool With Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Boob Song’

You know what the best part of the weekend was? There were no Oscars. But, you know, we’re still talking about them, so here we go: Halle Berry, who presented that long montage about James Bond, has spoken out in favor of Seth MacFarlane’s dumb jokes, particularly the bit where he mentioned seeing a lot of the present actresses’s breasts. "It takes so much to offend me these days after all the things that have been said about me, to me," she told Extra, "so I didn’t feel offended by that boob song." Alright, sure. Was anyone actually offended by it, or were people more like, "This song is trite and childish and also what is sexual about Jodie Foster’s bare breasts in The Accused?" Anyway, one time Halle Berry got paid more money than usual to take her shirt off in a movie, so. 

[via Detroit Free Press]

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Even Jane Fonda Hated Seth MacFarlane’s Boob Song

I completely missed Jane Fonda’s recap of the Oscars, mostly because I (foolishly) do not keep up with her personal blog. (It’s not on Tumblr. What, am I supposed to, like, go to it?) She sung the praises of many of the talented women at the telecast, particularly Charlize Theron who pulled her ballroom dancing skills out of nowhere. "Is there anything that beautiful creature can’t do?!" Fonda wrote. But she was not too pleased, unsurprisingly, with Seth MacFarlane’s jokes, particularly the boob song. "[W]hy not list all the penises we’ve seen?" she said. "Waaaay too much stuff about women and bodies, as though that’s what defines us." I think she’s being pretty kind to MacFarlane, who Jane Fonda could certainly eat for breakfast any damn day of the week.

[via Jane Fonda / CBS]

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Tina Fey Is Too Smart To Host the Oscars

Oh brother, it is Wednesday morning and we’re still talking about the Oscars. You know how everyone this week is like, "Oh man, can’t we just get Amy Poehler and Tina Fey to host everything?" Well, Tina Fey has spoken out and was all, "Hell no, I’m not hosting the Oscars!" See, Tina Fey is a smart lady who doesn’t set herself up for failure. Perhaps we should all look to her as our mentor and wisely bow out of situations in which we will all look like fools. It’s a shame, though, because it seems like the bar is set so low that there’s no way Fey could fail, but she cites the pressure being too high, especially for a woman. "The amount of months that would be spent trying on dresses alone," she lamented. "No way." Alas. Let’s all send out some frowny emoticons on Twitter today or something.

[via HuffPo]

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.