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What's your favorite reference in Stranger Things?

"Even though it's full of 80s references/nostalgia, my favorite visual cue has to be the repeated call out to Under the Skin whenever Eleven enters the sensory deprivation tank." -The Film Junkie

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Thursday
Jul212016

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (S1.E5-6)

We haven't forgotten about Crazy Ex Girlfriend. We'll just mix in it as we get through its hilarious episodes in preparation for Season 2. 

S1:E5 "Josh and I Are Good People!"

Rebecca, still guilty from her terrible behavior with Greg, attempts to prove to herself that she's a good person by getting mixed up in people's lives including Daryl's custody battle for his daughter. Josh also goes a little mental worrying that he's too much of a sinner. Let's rank the crazy...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul212016

Daddy's Little Monster

We don't want to tire of the hype around Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn before even seeing Suicide Squad but the marketing sure is leaning heavily on her. Or, more existentially, the question: is it possible to steal a movie that's been given to you?

Your excitement level in the comments please.

Thursday
Jul212016

Melinkia 

Variety Emmys are revoking Peter MacNicol's "Guest Actor" nomination for Veep since he appeared in 50% of the episodes (it's supposed to be under 50% a rule we support after years of abuse by studios and actors) but who gets his spot? Stay tuned.
Pajiba reacts with glorious schadenfreude to the news that Divergent is being demoted to TV for its final film
What Mama Said the best review of The Legend of Tarzan out there
THR the resurgence of Dungeons & Dragons in showbiz as geek culture reigns


Interview revives an old cover story from 1991 on Kathy Bates
Decider Who is the worst character on Gilmore Girls?
No Film School on AMC's giant purchase of Odeon (they're going to be way too powerful for one company in terms of how you see movies) -- and China's growing rapidly growing theatrical business.
Towleroad IFC picks up James Franco's latest gay endeavor, King Cobra, the true story of a murder in the gay porn industry 
Pajiba Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson have split up after 10 years. Sad face. So Pajiba looks back on their coupledom.
The Film Stage chooses the 50 best sci-fi films this century thus far. 50 is a lot for 16 years. The top ten feels substantial but I can't forgive them for having The Lobster so low it's practically sitting alongside those terrible Matrix sequels and Ex-Machina and Mad Max Fury Road not in the top ten feels... well, these lists are made to get people riled up (and clicking) so I'll stop there.
The Guardian interviews the undervalued Rebecca Hall 

Today's Watch
If you haven't yet seen this bit from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, you must. Longtime readers will know that TFE worships Broadway musical star Laura Benanti. Her voice is spectacular but her comic skills are just as strong. Here she is doing Melania Trump just one day after people noticed their resemblance. [Hat tip: Vulture]

And James Corden gets both FLOTUS and Missy Elliott in the car (Holla!) for some Carpool Karaoke and talk about "Let Girls Learn". Joyful. Inspiring. Just what we need right now. 

Thursday
Jul212016

Ava DuVernay Documentary to Open New York Film Festival 

The Fall Film Festivals (Venice, Toronto, Telluride, New York and London) are almost upon us. Or at least the announcements of their programmes are. TIFF announces next Tuesday, Venice at the end of of July. New York announced its opening night selection this week, Ava DuVernay’s The 13th, a documentary about the high incarceration rate, particularly of African Americans, in the United States.

The title refers to the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”

The film mixes archival footage - from the civil rights movement, Ku Klux Klan to the Black Lives Matter movement - with modern day commentary to present the ramifications of the amendment and the history of racial inequality in the US. It’s an apt choice for all that’s unfolding in 2016. The 13th will be released in cinemas and on Netflix on October 7th.

Lupita Nyongo'o and Madina Nalwanga in Queen of Katwe

Meanwhile lists are also being made for what other movies will appear on the festival circuit. London will open with Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom, and Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe will have its European premiere there, meaning it will debut somewhere on this side of the Atlantic first. Let’s speculate what else could play at New York, based on precedent that is arbitrary and will probably mean nothing in the end. But it’s fun to speculate:

• Damien Chazelle’s La La Land - this film, with the beloved trailer, will open Venice. Another Emma Stone film, Birdman, opened Venice and closed New York, it could happen again.

• Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk - because Life of Pi opened NYFF in 2012.

• Martin Scorsese's Silence - remember when Hugo started its Oscar campaign with a surprise screening in New York in 2011?

• Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals - the rumour is that it will play in competition at Venice. Come to New York soon after, Tom. We'd like to see Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal together in a movie, too.

• Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By the Sea - there’s always a Sundance movie that makes it to NYFF, Whiplash and Brooklyn being the last two examples.

• Robert Zemeckis’ Allied - his last two films, The Walk and Flight, both played at NYFF before opening nationwide.

That's just a few titles, we will know much more in the next few weeks. Are you planning to attend any of the fall film festivals?

Thursday
Jul212016

On this day: Hemingway, Falconetti, Clueless, Dunkirk

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

Corey Stoll as Hemingway

1892 Maria Falconetti is born. Delivers one of the best performances ever captured on film thirty-six years later in The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
1899 Famous author and real 'character' Ernest Hemingway is born. In addition to his work being made into films and TV miniseries he frequently pops up as a character in cinema played by everyone from Chris O'Donnell (In Love and War) to Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris - robbed of an Oscar nod though we honored him here) and now Dominic West (Genius) ...and that's not even the half of it.
1922 Don Knotts is born. Mugs it up in 70+ film and TV projects including Three's Company, The Apple Dumpling Gang, and The Andy Griffith Show - 5 Emmy wins for Supporting Actor thereafter until his death in 2006

1948 Steven Demetre Georgiu is born in London. He becomes the famous folk singer Cat Stevens of "Peace Train" and "Morning Has Broken" fame. Among his many early classics are the songs from the seminal 70s film Harold and Maude (which ridiculously received zero Oscar nominations). Later changes his name to Yusuf Islam and quits music for many years.
1951 Robin Williams is born
1953 Visual FX man John Nelson is born in Detroit. Gets his first FX gig with Terminator 2 (not a bad way to start) and wins the Oscar on his first nomination with Gladiator (2000)
1955 Hungarian auteur Béla Tarr is born. His best known pictures: Sátántangó, Werckmeister Harmóniák and The Turin Horse
1957 Jon Lovitz, SNL's "Master Thespian" and comic scene stealer of 90s pictures is born
1969 Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to step on the moon; Stanley Kubrick is nowhere in the vicinity at the time.
1971 Charlotte Gainsbourg is born to famous parents in London. Later submits herself to perpetual Lars von Trier torments.
1978 Ridiculously fine looking actors Josh Hartnett and Justin Bartha are born
1981 Singer Paloma Faith is born in London. Plays herself in a weirdly unflattering role in Youth (2015)
1989 Juno Temple is born. Specializes in sexually corrupted childwomen.
1992 Jessica Barden is born. 2016's been a breakout year for her via  "Justine," a bloodthirsty prostitute on Penny Dreadful and her role as "Nosebleed Woman" in The Lobster 
1995 Clueless is 21 years old today. It can drink now though it's always given us a contact high. (Please note: IMDb lists the release date as Wednesday the 19th rather than Friday the 21st but Wikipedia disagrees so I don't know.)
2006 Monster House hits theaters. Receives a well deserved nomination for Best Animated Feature but loses to Happy Feet which... recount!

Well, whichever. At least Cars didn't win!

2007 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows goes to market in book form. Sells 11 million copies on the first day before being split in two in movie form to reap an extra billion at the box office.
2010 Orlando Bloom goes off the market when he secretly marries model Miranda Kerr
2017 Christopher Nolan abandons sci-fi for a WW II drama Dunkirk, which will open in theaters on this day. Guess he really is pissed about being denied a single Oscar nomination for directing. 

Thursday
Jul212016

Pick Your Poison: The Hallmark Homages of Stranger Things

Daniel Crooke here. For the past two weeks, I've walled myself off from any pop cultural offering that doesn't include the letters LGBT while working around the clock at Outfest Los Angeles, our seminal, international queer film festival here in the City of Angels. Naturally the only external filmic force strong enough to infiltrate this border includes the words Winona Ryder. Slay, queen, slay.

I too have taken a long, hungry taste of the ananchronistic (and extra-colorful) Kool-Aid that is Netflix's '80s-set Stranger Things, the sci-fi outing that investigates a humdrum Indiana small town as a local young 'un mysteriously disappears in their midsts without warning. Much has been made of the homage-heavy layers that bake into its Spielbergian, Carpenteresque, Lynchian, and Stephen King-adjacent baklava; although the reason it succeeds beyond the hat-tip recipe can be found within the rich, nitty gritty filling of its heart-achingly true familial dynamics, of which Super 8 would have been smart to expand upon beyond the basic ingredients. So let's take a big bite and revel in its delicious influences. My personal favorite so far - despite Ryder's irresistible parallel to Melinda Dillon's momma bear on a misson from Close Encounters of the Third Kind - goes beyond bicycles and plunges the references to disturbing depths.


Jonathan's secret photo shoot in the woods recalls Blue Velvet's voyeuristic view from the closet; despite their quests for homegrown veracity, neither he nor Jeffrey were invited to the peep shows of a teenage pool party or a transgressive Rossellini-Hopper assault, but they've shown up in the shadows nonetheless. And yet we're still glad to be in on the drama. We've spent some time getting to know the traumatic roots of their curiosity via their displaced family units but these Peeping Toms challenge that sympathy through sensually clandestine invasions of personal space.

Apart from the bedroom posters of The Thing and Evil Dead, which Stranger Things visual reference sets your bicycle afloat?

Wednesday
Jul202016

Garry Marshall (1934-2016)

One of Hollywood's key figures passed away yesterday at the age of 81. His work in the past five years has consisted of a string of critically lambasted all star romcoms (Valentines Day, New Year's Eve, Mothers Day) and the day before he died one of the many actor he made famous (Scott Baio of Happy Days Joanie Loves Chachi fame) embarrassed himself on national television at the RNC. To put it bluntly, the last few years have not been kind but this is not the legacy that the beloved Garry Marshall deserves. We need to look a little further back. While he was never exactly a critic's darling - let's not rewrite history -- his work often resonated wildly with the public on screens both small and large. And that, my friends, is no small thing with or without a shelf of showbiz trophies.

He was a mammoth figure in comedy television, first, coming up as a writer on seminal shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and famous properties like The Lucy Show. After developing The Odd Couple for television (1970-1975) he created three true pop culture behemoths in Happy Days (1974-1984), Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983) and Mork & Mindy (1978-1982), the latter introducing the public to Robin Williams with whom they fell madly in love.

In the movies, and this is also no small thing, he was irreplaceable when it came to the careers of mainstream superstar actresses in both the 1980s and 1990s. He directed one of Goldie Hawn's most enduring hits (Overboard), one of Bette Midler's melodramatic bests (Beaches) and he was instrumental in the superstar blossoming of both Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride) and Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries). He also guided Michelle Pfeiffer through one of her most controversial roles  (Frankie & Johnny) but even though everyone argued miscasting she made fine work of it. He even tried to help Lindsay Lohan along (Georgia Rule) but it's hardly his fault that that didn't take. He was not without his missteps of course (Raising Helen, The Other Sister, Exit to Eden) but who isn't? 

My personal favorite Garry Marshall movie, BEACHES (1988)Laverne & Shirley starring his sister Penny (who also became a director)

Do you have a favorite film or television show from his resume? There are a lot of choices as his work was so deeply embedded in our pop culture for decades on end.