All posts tagged: Movies

Aaliyah, J-Love and Britney: My 20s Pop Culture Education

“When you grow up, your heart dies.” When I first heard mop-topped goth girl Alison Reynolds utter this dismal pronouncement in John Hughes’ 1985 now-classic The Breakfast Club, it sent shivers down my spine. Like her, I was a teenager at the time and imagining myself in college — forget about later on, as part of the work force — was enough to make me break out in zits. But the idea of spending the subsequent 75 years or so wandering the earth as a bored, numb, jaded adult? That was downright terrifying. Today, at 44 (an age my teen self couldn’t fathom; back then, I thought 30 was ancient), I can honestly say I’m almost as unjaded, wide-eyed and goofy — not to mention, passionate about my obsessions — as I was as a teen, and I have my 25-year-old self to thank for it. That’s how old I was when I hit my stride as a teen magazine editor. I knew I’d wanted to be a journalist since age 11, but “teen magazine …

Indie 80s: A Celebration of Small Moving Pictures

I saw my first indie film when I was nine years old. Clutching my homemade lunch in one hand and my movie ticket in the other, I entered the dark theater at 8:30 a.m. that morning, the bright glare of sunlight still dazzling my eyes. I don’t remember what theater it was, only that it was between the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum (where my dad was a curator) and the office where my 18-year-old sister was working for the summer in 1964. She’d dropped me off, and I settled in to watch The Beatles cavort in A Hard Day’s Night. Five times. Me, the empty theater and the Fab Four. A Hard Day’s Night wasn’t a big studio movie but a small, special gem of a picture made with love and affection for its topic. The theater was the only place near our home in Maryland, 40 miles away, that the indie “mockumentary” was playing. And my parents and sister didn’t think twice about leaving me there all alone, completely unsupervised, from morning till night. It …

The Movie That Changed My Perspective on Race Forever

In July 1989, my friend Gregory and I went to the movies. This was not an unusual event. As childhood friends growing up in Queens, we often went to our local movie houses. Cinema, for us, was about fantasy. The movies transported us to other worlds, other times, to exotic countries, to outer space, to rousing adventures with a Fedora-wearing Indiana Jones, and to cutesy romantic comedies where good-looking couples rode horse and buggy carriages through Central Park. When “Do The Right Thing” was released in July 1989, it made quite a splash in the media. This powerful independent film, written, directed, and starring Spike Lee, a young black filmmaker from NYU, was a no-holds-barred story about race.   The film’s opening title sequence, in which Rosie Perez danced to Public Enemy’s defiant “Fight the Power,” immediately signaled the director’s intention not to sugarcoat his anger and frustration over the state of race relations in the city. Although the film was marketed as comedic, some theater owners were afraid of showing it, thinking the realism of …

In 1978, My Local Drive-in Was Mecca

The Hillcrest Drive-In in my hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa, was exactly 2.6 miles from the house I grew up in. But to me, a small child in the late 70s, it might as well have felt as far away as the moon. My life, then, was so different from what my seven-year-old’s is today. It was a time of less immediacy and certainly less solvency, especially for our little family of two: me and my mom. Special occasions were special; they were cherished, infrequent events that, in hindsight, are the numbered pinpoints in the happy, pastoral, connect-the-dots of my childhood. My mom was a kid back then herself, having had me at just 18. She worked full time and put herself through college while I was in grade school. We lived in a tiny little house where our “home entertainment center” consisted of a 12” black and white TV (complete with foiled rabbit ear antennae and a clunking, hard-to-turn dial), and a turntable upon which The Beatle’s Abbey Road and Neil Young’s Harvest Moon were the weathered, scratchy …

Fifty Shades, Passion Parties and a Road Trip to Paramus

After a routine, reportedly pain-free tooth cleaning, my husband was slipped a post-it with a date and a phone number. “If your wife would like to see a sneak peak of Fifty Shades of Grey,” she whispered, “have her call me.” The dentist’s perky, pint-sized front desk assistant, Heather — who, when she’s not charging me for left quadrant tooth scaling — runs a side business called “Heather’s Little Pleasures,” her self-branded, New Jersey edition of a Passion Party. For the uninitiated, Passion Parties are like the Avon Ladies of fuzzy handcuffs and pink dildos. The screening she was hosting was in Paramus, New Jersey, a good 25 miles from my home in Brooklyn, and she promised swag bags, hot pink wristbands, free popcorn and… “Your dental hygienist Norma will be there.” Who could pass this up? Plus, there was something strangely apropos about the most sadistic of doctors being associated with such an event. To be clear, I’m no fan of the book. In fact, when I first tried to read it, I got …

The Ballsiest, Awkwardest and Cryingest: Our Own Sundance Awards

Park City, Utah, stands about 6,900 feet over sea level. If you are used to, say, the 39 feet Philadelphia sits above the Atlantic, that’s a hell of a long way up. You feel this most walking from the outskirts of town — where the critics and press screenings are mostly ensconced — up the slight-but-treacherous-upgrade mile into the downtown area, where all the celebs, parties and nightlife take place. A couple of times I made this very trek while trying to talk on the phone and found myself unable to speak coherently for all the huffing and puffing I was doing. an apt metaphor for the distance between the Talent and the (digitally) ink-stained hoard that appraise them. Let’s not dwell on it. For this reason among a host of others, I pretty much kept it to the movies on this, my first visit to this annual American Indie showcase, and on that score, I wasn’t disappointed. Sundance 2015 may have been the usual mountainous smorgasbord of indie films, celebs, parties, very long lines, …

The TueDo List: New Year, Little Changes

We’re kicking off the year with an eye toward change — just one small thing, for 30 days, and yes, weekends count. You can go for it over the weekend and be super active in your fitness routine, relationship, or whatever other kinds of goals you’ve set, or kick back and make plans to kick butt come Monday. Whatever you decide, here are some ideas for your first weekend of 2015. Read It’s one of my 2015 plans to read more, and I’ll be participating in TueNight’s 30-day challenge by reading at least a book a week. I got some Amazon cash for Christmas, so I think I’m going to get an e-reader. The Kindle was chosen for me, but do I want a Voyage? Or a Paperwhite? I can’t decide. But I’ve held out with just paper for a long time, and since I’m so connected for work and for regular life, if I want to read more (and I do!), I think I have to put books in front of myself in as many forms as possible. Even if I never, ever give up the …

Holiday Events Collage

The TueDo List: Movies, Shopping and Holiday Cheer

Hanukkah is happening. Christmas is nearly here. And the crush is almost over — as well as the chance to order anything in time for, well, anything. I’m not sure I can take one more bold type e-mail from a retailer, telling me that “THERE’S STILL TIME,” which of course implies the opposite. (There is still time for stocking stuffers, and there are some fun ones all day today on Amazon Prime.) Here’s how to catch up on some last-minute odds and ends for the people in your life. You can buy most of them from home, so you’ll also have time to relax and enjoy the weekend, holiday-style. Movies and TV I already told you I love my Roku, and I can’t stop talking about it. I’ve already got a Netflix membership, but I only have Hulu free for three months, so I’d love to get that picked up for me by someone who loves me. Sometimes, it’s the coolest thing to have someone else spring for a relatively small splurge item like that. If someone cares about my media, they care …

Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

The TueDo List: Enjoy Your Leftovers, Shop Small Businesses and Indulge in Holiday Films

My goal for this weekend is to do as little as possible. And I’m grateful that I have an opportunity to lapse into inertia. Here are a few other things going on this weekend that I’m thankful for (and you may be too). Happy holidays, my friends. It’s on. Leftovers I could not be less interested in the mall this weekend, but I’m all about leftovers and television. As for the remains of your dinner, Food Network, Martha Stewart, Southern Living and Cooking Light all have recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers — and many of them not the typical turkey-stuffing-cranberry-sauce sandwich variety. Weekend TV guides from Mashable, Daily Beast and Indiewire can help with the glowy box entertainment. Indiewire’s guide is my favorite — they’ recommend watching The Leftovers tomorrow on HBO Signature, calling it a bleak but must-watch drama. Shop Small Amid the Black Friday and Cyber Monday chaos lies Small Business Saturday. It’s an excellent opportunity to remind myself to do most, if not all, of my holiday shopping in my community. This event is (somewhat ironically) sponsored by American Express, which provides a map of local …

The TueDo List: Cool, Easy (Even Cheap!) Stuff to Do with Dad

It’s Father’s Day weekend, so dads are what it’s all about. Here’s what to do for him, with him — or both — this weekend. Movie Dad Sometimes simple is the sweetest, and and it’s possible that your dad may just be up for a movie date — whether it’s just with you, your kids, or the whole fam. Godzilla’s out there for the monster-movie fan, Spiderman and X-Men for your favorite superhero lover, and Grand Budapest Hotel for the father whose tastes are a little more eclectic. Don’t forget to treat him to dinner beforehand. If your dad is more of a homebody, there are Father’s Day deals on Roku, too. The top of the line version connects to more than 1,000 channels (including everything on Netflix) and works with Android and iPhone to turn those into streaming devices, as well. If your recipient is anything like my dad, make sure you throw in the hookup. (Roku.com, $40-90) Musical Dad Bonaroo — what could be termed the granddaddy of all current summer music festivals — …

Four Pristine Films and One Covered in Filth

In which we explore the filmic concerns of a given theme, and find new and novel ways of putting together yet another Internet-based list of movies. The wrinkle here, is our fifth pick will actually serve to prove as the counter argument, the best representation of the direct opposite of our theme.  1. Mary Poppins (1964) Director: Robert Stevenson Essential Characters: Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews), Bert (Dick Van Dyke), Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson) Basic Gist: Into a mournful house of sad children living in disarray with their bored mother and cold, emotionally vacant father, comes the vibrant, sing-songy Poppins, who descends to the family on an umbrella, sings a great deal, and teaches the lot of them how to embrace life’s travails and flourish. Tidy Type: Physical and emotional. Poppins teaches the children how to clean things up and get organized — which notably makes them instantly happier — but also how to enjoy their lives, freeing their beleaguered father in the process. Cleanliness Quotient (1-10): A solid 8, though we’re talking emotional clutter rather …

Four Very Giving Films and One Stingy Bastard

In which we explore the filmic concerns of a given theme, and find new and novel ways of putting together yet another Internet-based list of movies. The wrinkle here, is our fifth pick will actually serve to prove as the counter argument, the best representation of the direct opposite of our theme. 1. Adore (2013) Director: Anne Fontaine Gist: Two beautiful women who have been friends all their lives (Naomi Watts and Robin Wright), fall for each other’s sons (Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville) over the course of a single, tumultuous summer. Shared Benevolence: That would be the sons Ian (Samuel) and Tom (Frecheville). Simultaneously aghast and compelled, Lil (Watts) and Roz (Wright) cross social and moral boundaries in pursuit of their hearts’ desires, hanging the potential damage it could wreck to their friendship and the world around the boys. End Result: As you can imagine, things don’t go terribly well with this scenario. By the end, petty jealousies end up more or less blowing up everyone’s lives, and no one really gets what he/she might …

Snubbed: 5 Glaring Academy Award Omissions

With the Oscars taking place this Sunday, we thought we’d revisit the list of nominees, now that the initial cloud of critical dust has cleared. Are we still as outraged about some of their omissions as we were when the nominees were first announced? Turns out we absolutely are, so herewith, five instances in which the Academy has inexplicably failed us yet again, from least offensive to most galling. 1. Best Actress Brie Larson in Short Term 12 Director: Destin Cretton Currently Nominated For: Zilch Why So Much: Well, the truth is, I might not have been the biggest fan of the movie as a whole, but Larson’s performance — daring, gritty and suitably disturbed — absolutely stuck with me months later. Far from a glamour role, it shows the serious chops of a young actress with a hell of a career ahead of her. What Gets Dropped: Judi Dench in Philomena. This is categorically not calling out Ms. Dench, who is excellent as always, but in a crowded field of strong performances, hers is …

Before “Bollywood” There Was a Movie Genre That Felt All My Own

When I was growing up, Bollywood didn’t exist. At least, that phrase had not yet been officially coined as the moniker for India’s multi-billion dollar movie industry. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t any “Bollywood” movies to watch. Living in Geneva, Switzerland during the 1980s, we watched Hindi movies, as they were known at the time, on a VCR. It wasn’t easy to find the films, of course, and we’d often have to wait for weeks until someone got hold of a latest release. Then, that family would host a weekend viewing at their home where, over sweet, milky tea and hot, savory snacks, a bunch of us would sit together for three hours (the average length of a movie) and lose ourselves in a world far, far away. It was a world that our parents had left behind, but one that we kids longed to belong to; a place that we wanted, more than anything else, to claim as our own. But aside from our once-every-two-years visit to India, we only felt real familiarity …

Why I Can’t Watch Natalie Portman in The Professional Anymore

I swore this would never happen, but I think I’ve turned into a prude. The other night, my husband turned on the TV and the movie The Professional was on. We both jumped up. “Oh, yeah, this is a great movie. Let’s watch this!” About three minutes later, I stood up and said, “I can’t watch this anymore. I hate this. I hate watching Natalie Portman.” He asked me why and I went off on a minor rant, sounding like some sort of next-generation Tipper Gore. “I’m looking at this girl in ways that aren’t about the story line. The camera is lingering on her. There’s something creepy going on here.” He nodded amiably, shrugged and changed the channel. But this little outrage continued firing up, smoldering… I’ve been thinking about why I had such an unusually knee-jerk reaction. I LIKED that movie. When I first saw it in the late 90s — just having graduated with an MFA in Theater — I wanted to be Natalie Portman; I was jealous of her getting such …

The Greatest Video Store — Ever

I’m in France. Truffaut, Goddard, Malle stand before me, asking me to pick them up and maybe take them home. Swooning in front of an entire wall of French film VHS boxes, I ponder the names, the drama, the possibilities. The unknown. A whole world is opening up to me right here on 4th Street in Philadelphia. The year is maybe 1991 and I’m spending countless hours in a Philly video rental store called TLA Video. Over the last few days, as we’ve watched Netflix get in bed with Philadelphia’s own Comcast for even faster, beat-that-buffer, on-demand streaming, we thought we’d “be kind and rewind” to a time when video store browsing was as good as the film itself. Just off South Street, the once punk haven (in the ’90s you’d still spot the occasional blue mohawk stroll by), the TLA was a cultural hub. The shop opened in 1985 as a subsidiary to the Theater of the Living Arts, then one of the country’s leading repertory movie theaters. There’s a whole separate piece to be written …

6 Movies That Don’t Shy Away From Addiction

Unlike our fabulous Piers Marchant, a seasoned movie reviewer I am not. However, I have seen my fair share of films about alcoholism and drug abuse (three stints in rehab, where weekly “Movie Nights” consist solely of anti-addiction flicks, will leave you with a vast viewing history). And obviously, I now have an honest interest in the subject matter myself. The following rundown are films that I feel address the disease of addiction in a way that’s both entertaining and realistic. (Or at least do a hell of a good job trying, as far as Hollywood will allow). They are the antithesis of 28 Days, the Sandra-Bullock-goes-to-rehab vehicle that, despite some good performances, pretty much wraps everything up into a nice, neat bow by the time the credits roll. These movies don’t let the disease get off so easy. While there’s hope (and why shouldn’t there be? we have to have hope to stay sober), there is also no bullshit. We know that the protagonists’ problems will not magically disappear once the final reel has …

Lost in Celluloid: One Critic’s Brief Cinematic Odyssey

When I was eight, my parents took me to a film in the Catskills on the behest of my cousins from New York. We were all together for a camping trip, and my cousin, Big Tony, at the time the chief of police of the Bronx, really wanted to see this particular movie. Naturally, it turned out to be wildly inappropriate for a child of my age. There were shootings, menacing doings around shipyards at night, harsh language, and one scene that put me over the edge involving our hero, bound to a chair, and an evil woman injecting him with drugs. I stuck it out (even then, a film critic’s instinct to stay to the bitter conclusion of a screening), but was miserable and freaked-out and went to bed that night crying and deeply unsettled. For years, I tried to solve the mystery of just what that film had been. I only distinctly remembered two elements: Some scene involving a shipyard and our hero skulking out of the bay of a massive boat under …

Margit’s Note: Let’s Go to the Movies!

  Hey! Why don’t we go to the movies? Whenever someone suggests a trip to the cinema, I perk up. Is there any better way to spend a rainy Sunday? A frozen Tuesday night at a Frozen sing-along? A sweltering August, spending a Dog Day Afternoon? Here at TueNight we are movie buffs, fans and nerds.  And this week seems particularly movie-tinged. The Oscars are fast upon us; we just lost our favorite Ghostbuster and the man responsible for much of our 80s entertainment (may you rest in peace Harold Ramis); and we watch as Netflix hops in bed with Comcast for faster streaming and much bigger on-demand implications. We find ourselves harkening back to why we love the silver screen: Jenna takes us to her Iowa drive-in. Piers Marchant talks about life as a movie critic and the films he thinks should have received an Oscar nod. Susan Linney shares 6 of her favorite movies about addiction. Savita Iyer recalls the “Bollywood” of her youth. Adrianna Dufay wonders why she can’t stand to watch …

Weekend TueDo List: Elaine Stritch, Fallon and Timberlake, Chill Out & More

Yes, yes we know — we deliver every Tuesday. Well, sometimes we just can’t wait. To that end, here are a few of the things we’re browsing, viewing and can’t wait to watch. Enjoy your weekend! GO Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. She’s 89. She just joined Twitter. She’s Elaine Stritch — what more is there to say? Plenty, which is we’re dying to see this documentary, which is packed with appearances by Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Alec Baldwin, the late, great James Gandolfini, and many more. (Opens Feb. 21 in New York City; March 7 in Los Angeles.) WATCH The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy’s been killing the 11:30pm time slot all week. Make sure you tune in tonight, when Fallon’s best bro, Justin Timberlake, pays a visit. Given their many, many, many creative collaborations, we’re sure they’ve got something extra special up their sleeves for this evening. CHILL OUT Calm.com. A de-stressful website sounds like an oxymoron — really? I’m going to get online to om and ahhh? But this lovely site, which greets you with an everchanging …

Your TueDo List: Lake Street Dive, Charles Dickens, The Walking Dead

Yes, yes we know — we deliver every Tuesday. Well, sometimes we just can’t wait. To that end, here are a few of the things we’re listening to, reading and can’t wait to watch. Enjoy your weekend! READ Dickens Birthday. It’s Charles Dickens  202nd birthday today. There’s a controversial statue going up in his honor (Mediabistro) and these brilliant illustrations of his classic novels (Flavorwire). But you can celebrate with a reread of your favorite Dickens classic. Our faves: The Mystery of Edwin Drood and, of course Oliver Twist (p.s. did anyone else have a HUGE inexplicable kid crush on Jack Wild as the film-version’s Artful Dodger?). (Feb. 7) —MD WATCH The Walking Dead Mid-Season Premiere Someone literally lost his head during the finale of the first half of the season. We can’t imagine what gruesome antics are in store for us in the second half. (Feb 9) —SL LISTEN Lake Street Dive  If you saw their show-stopping performance on Showtime’s  Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating The Music Of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, you didn’t forget it. Rachael Price — she of Carly Simon lips and sultry jazz vocals  — is a …

Movie Night: Four Well-Aged Films and One Young Whippersnapper

In which we explore the filmic concerns of a given theme, and find new and novel ways of putting together yet another Internet-based list of movies. The wrinkle here, is our fifth pick will actually serve to prove as the counter argument, the best representation of the direct opposite of our theme.  1. Amour (2012) Director: Michael Haneke Essential Characters: Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) Gist: An elderly husband lovingly cares for his wife after a stroke leaves her increasingly deranged and enfeebled, and leaves him largely alone. Generational Conflict: The couple have a daughter, but — in a terribly French manner — largely ignore her in order to better concentrate upon themselves. As a result, Georges refuses to lean on her for support when his wife turns ill. Important Life Lesson: True love can extend throughout any circumstance, no matter how grievous. Also, enjoy your time with your partner as much as you can while you have it, as you never know when it might be stripped away from you.   2. Harold and Maude (1971) Director: Hal …

Four Films with Sage Wisdom; One, Well, Not So Sage

In which we explore the filmic concerns of a given theme, and find new and novel ways of putting together yet another Internet-based list of movies. The wrinkle here is our fifth pick will actually serve to prove as the counter argument, the best representation of the direct opposite of our theme.  1. Moonstruck (1987) Director: Norman Jewison Essential Characters: Loretta Castorini (Cher), Ronny Cammareri (Nicolas Cage), Cosmo Castorini (Vincent Gardenia), Rose (Olympia Dukakis) Circumstance: Married more than 40 years, Rose knows her husband, Cosmo, is having an ongoing affair and is troubled by the implication. On some level, she can’t understand it, but feels pretty sure that it’s a way men stave off their creeping mortality. Advice Dispensed: Rose: “I just want you to know. No matter what you do. You are going to die, just like everyone else.” Result: Eventually, in front of the rest of the family at breakfast, Rose tells Cosmo he must stop seeing the other woman. He rises up menacingly, slams his hand down on the table, then sits back down …