Articles on this Page
- 04/28/15--18:04: _The final 'Mad Max'...
- 04/28/15--18:27: _YouTube stars toast...
- 04/29/15--05:00: _'Unfriended' will m...
- 04/29/15--05:53: _Amy Schumer's boy-b...
- 04/29/15--09:16: _Why you need to be ...
- 04/29/15--11:05: _Here's what Justin ...
- 04/29/15--12:21: _Instagram launches ...
- 04/29/15--13:11: _Todrick Hall tackle...
- 04/29/15--16:33: _'Seinfeld' goes to ...
- 04/29/15--17:26: _Finally, some viewe...
- 04/30/15--04:25: _'S**t People Say To...
- 04/30/15--06:00: _Get nostalgic with ...
- 04/30/15--06:21: _Kristen Wiig channe...
- 04/30/15--07:27: _'Weird Al' Yankovic...
- 04/30/15--07:39: _'21 Jump Street' is...
- 04/30/15--07:50: _Ryan Adams covers B...
- 04/30/15--09:00: _Mamrie Hart and Jen...
- 04/30/15--09:07: _Bruce Willis' 'Unbr...
- 04/30/15--11:18: _'Forgotten Assholes...
- 04/30/15--11:24: _KardBlock browser e...
- 04/28/15--18:04: The final 'Mad Max' trailer is here, and it's the best of them all
- 04/28/15--18:27: YouTube stars toast 10 years of YouTube with epic selfie
- 04/29/15--05:53: Amy Schumer's boy-band parody launches a viral selfie campaign
- 04/29/15--09:16: Why you need to be watching Akilah Hughes on YouTube
- 04/29/15--12:21: Instagram launches @music to spotlight up-and-coming performers
- 04/29/15--13:11: Todrick Hall tackles Beyoncé's entire discography in 4 minutes
- 04/29/15--16:33: 'Seinfeld' goes to Hulu for a massive $180 million
- 04/29/15--17:26: Finally, some viewership ratings for Netflix
- In its first eleven days online, 10.7 percent of subscribers watched at least one episode of Daredevil.
- 6.5 percent of subscribers viewed the third season of House of Cards over its first 30 days (but almost half of those subscribers watched at least three episodes in one day during that time, making it Netflix's most binge-watched original program).
- 7.3 percent of subscribers checked out The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidtduring its first month.
- 04/30/15--06:00: Get nostalgic with these 12 '90s romcoms streaming on Netflix
- 04/30/15--06:21: Kristen Wiig channels her inner Khaleesi on 'The Tonight Show'
- 04/30/15--07:27: 'Weird Al' Yankovic reveals his Grammy in an unboxing video
- 04/30/15--07:50: Ryan Adams covers Bryan Adams' 'Summer of 69'
- 04/30/15--09:00: Mamrie Hart and Jenna Marbles get boozy in new '#HeyUSA' clip
- 04/30/15--09:07: Bruce Willis' 'Unbreakable' gets a Kimmy Schmidt-inspired makeover
Ever since the preview footage for Mad Max: Fury Road essentially shut down last year's Comic-Con, its marketing team has been pushing the film's visual splendor upon us with a relentless feast of increasingly dazzling, mostly wordless, trailers.
Now, just two weeks before its May 15 release date, they've given us a glimpse at the final missing piece of the puzzle that is this not-exactly-a-reboot chip off the original: a trailer with actual dialogue.For the first time since this trailer blitz began, the footage reveals a bit of the dieselpunk dystopia fueling the story behind this high-concept chase sequence. Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy are shown fighting for their lives over possession of a tanker of "guzzoline," amid a sumptuous backdrop of glittering gold metal gadgetry, chains, spikes, skulls, and just about everything else you could possibly need for your post-apocalyptic desert wasteland life.
Best of all, we actually get to see characters interact through dialogue instead of just blowing things up and chasing each other across the sands of Namibia. Somehow the "less is more" approach lends itself well to the tense, high-voltage environment the film has crafted.
We've said it repeatedly, but seriously: We need it to be May 15 right now.
Screengrab via Movieclips/YouTube
If you can name everyone in this massive YouTuber selfie snapped by Tyler Oakley, you're possibly the medium's biggest fan ever. Oakley captured this history moment as YouTubers from all across the platform gathered in New York City to celebrate YouTube's 10th Anniversary, as well as the most recent NewFronts presentation that outlines upcoming initiatives. Part of YouTube's future plans include an investment in several of the creators present to develop new scripted and reality programs.
If you're wondering exactly who's in there, a representatives for YouTube Space confirmed several of the familiar faces:
Creators in the picture include Tyler Oakley (taking the pic), Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, Rhett & Link, ASAP Science, Matthew Santoro, Cassey Ho, Lily Singh, Dude Perfect, Vsauce, AndreasChoice, PointlessBlog, Chester See, Danisnotonfire, Amazing Phil, Epic Meal Time, MyLifeAsEva, Tomska, boyce ave, vanossgaming, GiGiGorgeous, Slowo Guys, Jamal Edwards, missglamorazzi, Prank v Prank, Joey Graceffa, Devinsupertramp, ThatcherJoe, Kurt Hugo Schneider, Kingsley, iJustine, Tomska....And MORE!!!
Illustration by Max Fleishman
This article contains spoilers for Unfriended.
“One for Unfriended.”
“How old are you?”
The movie screen captivated the first half of the 20th century, and the TV screen the second, and in 2015 the computer is about to dance on their graves. Just wait until the iPad-toting babies have college degrees.
Unfriended starts with a desktop and a cursor opening a YouTube video in which several people stand around watching and filming a young girl (Laura) as she shoots herself. The text associated with the video links to another video which shows Laura at a beach party, drunk and belligerent. This second video and comments associated with it are what pressured Laura into taking her life.
The film, captured in real time, takes place on the first anniversary of her death. And, as the departed’s five former best friends and tormentors gather on Skype, one by one she exacts her revenge. Activating her Skype and Facebook accounts from beyond the grave, Laura threatens the onscreen representations of her enemies.
Unfriended is not a great movie. The scares are predictable and the gore is lame, but it is unlike anything I have ever witnessed. Gimmick or not, having a movie shot all on the computer screen is of huge cinematic significance that redefines the way an audience understands its participation in entertainment. All praise be unto the gimmick.
What are we thinking?
If you’re watching a movie with a voiceover, that’s not a good sign. Whether it’s the overexplanation of Platoon or the meta criticism of Adaptation, voiceover hasn’t been cool in a while. Unfriended tries an entirely new tactic of getting inside the mind of the protagonist.
Having so much of the film written and read makes the audience brutally aware of its participation in entertainment.
Blaire Lily, the girl with the computer screen, is our protagonist. While she maintains a conversation with a group of friends on Skype, she also chats with her boyfriend, Mitch, in another window, highlighting the way we use our ever accessible online persona to hide from what we really think.
Blaire confesses to Mitch what she would never say to her other friends. More than that we, as the audience, are privy to her innermost thoughts—everything she types and deletes before sending to Mitch or posting on the ghost’s Facebook profile. She types and deletes and types and deletes, reminding us of the luxury of text. Having the time to think through and filter what we say, away from the traps of awkward silence and body language, allows us to put forward what is, if not our best self, at least our desired expression of ourselves.
Having so much of the film written and read makes the audience brutally aware of its participation in entertainment. Watching is passive and escapist. Even the most complex psychological thrill ride lets you turn off your life, your brain, and transports you into another world. This is why a lot of people don’t like foreign films. To get what’s happening in the movie, you have to read. To read, you have to engage. To engage is to be aware of your participation in the experience.
What are we running from?
Unfriended was originally called Cybernatural, and while it doesn’t have the same marketing ring to it, it’s a more descriptive title. The embarrassing video of drunk Laura culminates in her passed out with shit dripping out of her shorts and down her legs.
Digestion is the great leveler. The stinky, messy biological shame is common not just to all humans but to all animals. No one wants to talk about it or be associated with it, but everyone does it.
We craft our disembodied online existence so we can be rid of all the gross business associated with living in meatspace. The ghost’s early shenanigans consist of posting unwanted photos from various accounts. One photo of drug use elicits the response “a bong? I’m friends with my mom!”
We’re again confronted with our desire to for two separate selves when the ghost steals an image of Blaire stripping from her boyfriend and adds a link for “free live cams.” It is something Blaire wanted to share with Mitch, not the whole world, but because she communicates with Mitch through the representation she shows to the whole world—and he similarly with her—they don’t really connect. The young couple tries to use technology for biological ends, but it is appropriated by the technological community of avatars and data.
Who are we?
We all want to be something we’re not. Teenagers often want to be stronger and more influential than they are. The pre-suicide fallout from the drunk video was mainly comments from classmates like “kill urself.”
There is a disconnect between the comment and the commenter, between the girl in the video and the girl passed out of the beach. Other minor characters agree that inflammatory things don't count online. On Chatroulette a white user refers to himself as “n***a.” Our profiles are how we present ourselves, how we want to be. Black instead of white, confident bitch instead of scared teenager.
Laura’s ghost exacts revenge by possessing her victims and forcing them to take their own lives, like they (in her mind) made her do.
A ghost is an impression of the past. What is left online for Laura is two devastating videos of her weakest moments. Now that she is gone, the videos are all that are left of her, and she wants to punish those responsible. She doesn’t only punish them by forcing their demise, but by revealing their cruelty online.
The last moments of Blaire’s life consist of her seeing a slew of Internet messages urging her to kill herself for what she did to Laura. So, while one interpretation of events is that a ghost possessed their bodies, the cops will probably come to the conclusion that, racked with guilt, they all chose to commit suicide.
What is left online for Laura is two devastating videos of her weakest moments
One of the ghost’s persistent threats is that if they hang up on the conversation, they will die. In many ways, it is right: The separation between online and biological life is false. What you do in either place infects the other. To hang up on your Internet self is to end your existence.
What really scares us?
The ghost first presents itself as an anonymous participant in the Skype group. Then, all of a sudden, it types, making itself both real and frightening. Relying on technology as we do, we’re afraid when it doesn’t work as it should. Since we think of it as “our” platform, it is disturbing when it doesn’t do as told.
The gore in Unfriended is punctuated with spinning wheels, frozen screens, and buffering, because nothing is scarier than your computer not working. When disturbing messages start coming from Facebook, Blaire tries to unfriend the late Laura but cannot. As she says to Mitch “like, it won't click.” The same thing happens when the friends find it’s impossible to leave Skype because “There's no button to hang up on.”
Taking after the hyperbolic “blue screen of death” familiar to Windows users, the ghost attacks its victims by limiting their power over their devices. Absence of access is lack of life.
As the credits rolled and I made notes on my iPad, a man exiting the row in front of me turned around and said “better close that computer before she come out and getcha.” Because Unfriended uses innovative tactics to engage the audience in the experience of viewership, the movie reminded him of the dangers of relying too much on representation and failing to properly live biological life.
So close your computer. It’s springtime.
Photo via Andy Melton/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed
The reigning queen of comedy is at it again. After debuting her third season of Inside Amy Schumer and performing a hilarious send-up of booty anthems, last night Amy Schumer took sharp aim at “self-esteem boosting” boy band anthems with a One Direction sound-alike titled “Girl You Don’t Need Makeup.”The hilarious video visits the tropes of all those obnoxious music videos that tell girls they’re “naturally beautiful” while obviously reinforcing less than natural beauty standards. In the sketch, a boy band surrounds Schumer and urges her to take off her makeup, but once she fully removes it, there’s a twist. Whoops, they misspoke. Maybe just a touch of mascara, the boys urge. You know, so she can be recognizably female.
The sketch is a pitch-perfect critique of these ridiculous “feel-good” tunes. But what’s even more feel-good? Schumer took to Twitter and encouraged fans to post selfies with the #GirlYouDontNeedMakeup hashtag and has been retweeting the results.Here are some of the happy fans Schumer has retweeted so far: Screengrab via Inside Amy Schumer/Comedy Central
Akilah Hughes is one of the best creators on YouTube today, hands down.
Hilarious, articulate, and multidimensional, Hughes’ channel (Smoothiefreak) is a celebration of storytelling, sarcasm, being yourself, and most importantly, laughing at the misadventures every 20-something is bound to encounter in their life.Each week, Hughes fills her channel with videos that never fail to brighten even the drabbest of days. Her videos include comedy sketches about how to best survive your 20s in NYC (hint: lots of wine and a onesie), tipsy book reviews with YouTube friends, Scandal sketches, parodies of YouTube trends such as makeup videos and tags, and life talks that are guaranteed to prepare you better for life than any marathon of Sex and the City (trust me on this one).
Although Hughes started her channel and associated blog in January 2006, her first big hit didn’t come until seven years later, when she released “Meet Your First Black Girlfriend”—a video that is not only comedy gold, but also began conversations about race representation across the traditional and social media. From there, Hughes has risen to be one of the most promising talents on the platform, with such fans as John and Hank Green, Franchesca Ramsey, and the Gregory Brothers cheering her on.One of the most powerful things about Hughes is her ability to make videos that both make people laugh and engage those same viewers on topics such as race representation, racism, and sexism. In a recent article she wrote for Fusion—where she is a full-time staff writer and producer—Hughes examines the serious lack of black creators across the platform and attempts to define YouTube’s role in protecting and engaging underrepresented communities on the platform. Out of the 500 top channels on YouTube, fewer than 30 of them are people of color, proving that Hughes’s points need to be addressed—and quickly. In the article, Hughes writes:
My only wish is that YouTube would hold itself accountable for racism on its platform, and make an effort to signal that diversity and inclusion are things it cares about. After all, 39% of Americans are people of color. Worldwide, people of color are in the majority. Don’t those people deserve to see content that reflects their lives on YouTube?
As part of both the underrepresented communities of women in comedy and creators of color on YouTube, Hughes stands out for her passion for educating and empowering her audience to not settle for YouTube’s status quo. She’s an incredible role model to young YouTube viewers, proving through her work across numerous mediums that the bravest thing people can do is use their voices and talents to change the world into a place little better than when they found it.
Screengrab via Smoothiefreak/YouTube
Instagram post by Bieber of the same photo reveals that he’s wearing a wig in the photo—his real hair is much shorter right now. He joins a slew of other cameos from models like Karlie Kloss, Alessandra Ambrosio, Naomi Campbell, and Cara Delevingne. Italian website Repubblica, investigators are trying to determine whether a warrant for Bieber’s arrest in Argentina for a 2013 incident in Buenos Aires is enforceable in Italy.
Instagram might be best known for its photos and videos, but with a new initiative announced on Wednesday, the media-sharing service is hoping to shed light on the musical side of its app.
Instagram CEO and founder Kevin Systrom announced the platform's increased focus on the music community using the newly minted @music account, which already boasts over 19,000 followers.The new account is "dedicated to exploring music around the globe, from those who create it to the community around it," Systrom wrote in the post.
Each week, @music will look at music on Instagram, sharing "a different side of artists you know and love" and exposing fans to new talent. The account will post six days a week and foster "community participation with a new, music-themed Monthly Hashtag Project."
Vine has long been a feeding ground for musical stars, like chart topper Shawn Mendes, who got his start in 6-second increments. With the same mechanism for musical discovery present on Instagram, @music could easily tap into its existing community of celebrity users and shed light on new stars.
Musicians make up more than 25 percent of the app's top accounts, according to Billboard.
@Music is already sharing content from The Roots drummer Questlove, pairing a shot snapped by the performer with some behind-the-scenes quotes about his musical experiences. The account is also spotlighting international musicians, including the Japanese group Tricot.Photo via Morgan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed
It’s the next level of Queen Bey worship.
Todrick Hall, whose earworm covers make us want to sing along, managed to squeeze every single Beyoncé song across five albums in a smooth medley. Superfruit did a similar Beyoncé medley last year (but 5 minutes in length), but instead of picking which one is better, we’re going with the “Why not both?” approach.
It’s jampacked 4-minute medley with himself. He does all of the chords, the choreography, and syncs it up so it turns into something just as flawless as Beyoncé herself. But what’s with all the fours? Let Hall explain.
“This took four single take performances of memorizing four different sets of lyrics & choreography (ironically this was filmed in four hours), and is exactly four minutes in length because of Beyoncé’s connection to the number 4,” Hall wrote in the video description.H/T Jezebel | Screengrab via todrickhall/YouTube
After a few months on the auction block, the streaming rights to the Seinfeld library have finally been sold by Sony TV to Hulu, which is expected to start streaming the show in June, for an estimated $875,000 an episode. That puts the total price tag at $160 million, with a good portion of that going to Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, who could have never predicted while Seinfeld was airing that they'd see millions of dollars someday from some strange concept called "SVOD."
The Daily Dot's Ben Branstetter speculated that Netflix passed on the show due to its lack of binge-watching value, with its revolutionary "show about nothing" concept shooting itself in the foot, for streaming purposes, by having a plot that didn't really move forward like that of Friends (however subtly) over the course of its nine seasons. Citing the fact that Sony's own streaming service, Crackle, offered random Seinfeld episodes for streaming in no particular order, Branstetter observed that
"With few exceptions, you could watch all 180 episodes of Seinfeld on shuffle and it likely wouldn't matter."
Others have speculated that Seinfeld probably wouldn't connect as well with the millennial demographic that gave Friends such a powerful second life on Netflix, which is probably true: Evidence of the millennial view of Seinfeld can be observed in the outrage created when Tumblr decided to deck itself out in the show's aesthetic to celebrate its fictional (but observed by many fans in real life) holiday of Festivus. Basically: The Tumblr youths lost their minds when the service's logo reflected that of Seinfeld's for one freaking day.
Hulu, on the other hand, has already shown that it couldn't care less if the millennial crowd didn't love its back catalog: In February, it purchased the rights from CBS to air CSI, and its over-300 previous episodes, and things really don't get more "dad show" than CSI.
There's still another possible explanation for why Netflix passed on Seinfeld and Hulu didn't: It may have just been, as Puff Daddy would say, "all about the Benjamins."
While it was widely speculated that Netflix had paid a similar amount for Friends to what Sony TV was offering Seinfeld up for, the total that Hulu ended up paying was quite a bit larger than that estimate. Netflix paid about $500,000 an episode for Friends, with a total for the catalog being around $118 million; when compared to the previously mentioned $875,000 per episode ponied up by Hulu, with a $160 million total, it's possible that Sony TV was just asking for a lot more money for Seinfeld than most analysts had estimated, and Netflix just found it financially prudent to bow out of the auction.
Hulu's deal with Sony TV is a five-year commitment, so don't expect to find Seinfeld streaming anywhere else (legally) for quite some time. Seinfeld is a pretty sweet thing to have exclusive rights to, and when you compare the costs of a monthly Hulu subscription with those of Seinfeld and and CSI Blu-ray box sets, maybe the streaming service has a good strategy going: It's got a great hold on content airing on major networks, and by picking up the back catalogs of what some may deem as being "dad shows," the company seems quite aware—with Hulu shipping pre-installed, and easy to use on most new smart TVs—that not all cord-cutters are millennials.
When you think about it, the occasional random old episode of Seinfeld or CSI fits in quite nicely with what Hulu already does: It actually makes the service feel very familiar to basic cable subscriptions—but a whole lot cheaper. By acquiring Seinfeld, Hulu is close to perfecting its niche (which is different than Netflix's): Being the streaming service that replaces your Comcast subscription.
Netflix keeps its viewership data close to the vest, and by "close to the vest," we mean that it doesn't share any of it at all. The cavalier approach to ratings works: The streaming monster orders new seasons, cancels shows, and that's all you need to know. Got it?
A company based in San Diego, Luth Research, doesn't get it—its researchers developed a technology that they call their "ZQ Intelligence" tool, which analyzes encrypted data from Netflix apps. They've gotten a sample of 2,500 U.S. Netflix subscribers, who have allowed the tool into their viewing habits, to provide some rudimentary data on the viewership of Netflix's original programs.
The company allowed Variety an exclusive look at some of its analysis, including this nifty graph, which tracks the percentage of Netflix subscribers that are viewing its original content, daily, over the course of the programs' first 30 days online:Aside from breaking down viewership by daily percentages, Luth provided Variety with some other fun, and perhaps more enlightening, numbers:
Still, it's more information than we've had on the viewership numbers of Netflix original programs thus far, and the percentages can still be applied to the total amount of subscribers (40.9 million in the U.S.) to give a rough estimate of how many people are watching these shows. That means, from this data, that almost 4.4 million people checked out Daredevil in its first 11 days online. That's not bad, and that number would probably be even more impressive if Luth was tracking people that are watching Netflix on their televisions.
So far, Netflix has not commented on Luth's data, but the odds are that execs are not super jazzed about it. In 2013, a company called Procera Networks figured out a way to analyze the viewership of the first season of House of Cards, and Netflix responded with some coding wizardry that effectively blocked the company from looking into any further data.
"You are a terrible assistant, why don't you go back to working in porn where you belong?"
This is a revolting comment to hear under any circumstances, but it's just one of the many examples of film-industry sexism submitted to the Shit People Say To Women Directors blog.
The anonymous Tumblr account has spent the past week exposing incidents of blatant sexual harassment, misogyny, and discrimination in the industry, beginning with directors and expanding into other behind-the-camera careers. Examples range from petty and ill-informed ("Women can't direct action movies.") to the kind of sexual comments that would get you fired from most jobs.
"You need the crew to see you cry on set, so that they remember that you’re a woman." — instructions given to me in a directing workshop.
"I'm an editor. A director once informed me that sitting next to me all day made him want to look at porn."
"I can’t work with someone I want to fuck. It messes with my head." — a married director to me, after we had already worked together but, turned down his oh so attractive offer to move to his city on my own dime and become his mistress.
When I was just starting out and shadowing on a major broadcast television show, I heard the male DP say to the male Cameraman about the female director who was conferring with the female writer: “They should stick to their dollhouses.”
“How’s your sex life? Are you having a lot of sex?” — A male financier in the middle of my pitch about a documentary on women’s rights in the Middle East.
Due to their anonymous nature, most of these anecdotes are unverified. But overall, they certainly fit with the film industry's reputation for being riddled with virulent misogyny. Numerous industry professionals have shared the blog on social media over the past few days, confirming that this kind of discrimination is all too familiar.
According to annual reports from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, the number of women movie directors has declined since the late '90s. Just seven percent of the top 250 movies last year were directed by women, down two percent from 1998. Other film careers show a similar gender disparity, with women making up just five percent of cinematographers and 11 percent of editors.Some people may scoff at the idea of an anonymous blog making any difference, but for obvious reasons most women would prefer not to attach their names to this kind of anecdote for fear of damaging their careers. At the very least, this Tumblr can remind women in the film industry that they are not alone.
Photo via Jan Starzak/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
In light of the recent announcement that a remake of She’s All That is in the works via Miramax and the Weinsteins, we’ve been thinking a little about ’90s romcoms lately. OK, we’ve been thinking about them a lot—enough that we’ve turned to Netflix to see which romcoms from Generation X we can currently stream while we’re pretending to be doing work. As it turns out, there’s quite a few.
1) She’s All That (1999)
Ah, the film that prompted this roundup in the first place. According to Wikipedia, it’s a remake of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, which means that Pygmalion must be about a popular boy making a bet with another popular boy that he can make a girl that’s already absurdly attractive look absurdly attractive in a different way by the time that prom comes around. I’ve never seen the play, but that’s the gist of the film, anyway.
Its 1999 release made She’s All That the perfect bridge into the new millennium—a bridge that left Matthew Lilliard (sadly, as his his d-bag character steals every scene he’s in) and Freddie Prinze Jr. in the ’90s, and carried Anna Paquin and Paul Walker into the 2000s. But Rachel Leigh Cook’s “pre-makeover” appearance is now the “hipster” look in 2015, so the remake will inevitably end with the lead actress looking like Cook does in the beginning of the original. Ah yes, the circle of life.
2) Beautiful Girls (1996)
The title’s a bit misleading—it’s more about a group of late-20s male friends who are mystified by beautiful girls than it is about the beautiful girls themselves. Set in Knights Ridge, Mass., it’s plotless in the way of films like American Graffiti, Dazed and Confused, and Kicking and Screaming (the one Noah Baumbach directed—not the Will Ferrell soccer movie): It involves a 10-year high school reunion loosely wrangling a group of friends and analyzing the various ways their lives are in turmoil—which seem aimless until their last moments, when they suddenly reveal what they’ve been getting at the whole time.This movie is guaranteed to make you fall in love with Sweet Caroline, and it features Natalie Portman from when she was always typecast the young girl with the old soul (cf. Ellen Page in the 2000s). It also features an excellent feminist smackdown from Rosie O’Donnell, who offers up a much-appreciated defensive rant on female pubic hair.
3) Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
This was the film that transitioned Richard Curtis from “the writer behind Blackadder” to “the writer behind every British romantic comedy that’s ever made your father cry.” That’s not a slight against Curtis; making my father cry takes a lot of talent, and I think Love Actually and About Time are legitimately great films. He also wrote War Horse, which, while technically not a British film, made your father cry nonetheless.Honestly, the gist of the film is all in the title: Hugh Grant goes to some weddings, which he’s always late to, with the exception of the one that’s (spoiler alert) his own, and he also attends a funeral. He keeps running into old girlfriends at these weddings, and one woman (Andie MacDowell) who he falls in love with, and he does all this with a face that’s so handsome that it’s actually upsetting. With It’s a Wonderful Life, they say “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.” In Four Weddings and a Funeral, I say “every time Hugh Grant smiles, you remember that you hate your own ugly face.” Even with his handsomeness, though, nothing can save him from the fact that British weddings appear to be the biggest hassles known to humanity.
4) A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
Even when you account for the fact that this film is about kidnapping a man’s daughter for ransom money, and that it includes a bank robbery followed by a clandestine bullet removal by a veterinarian, this still feels like a quaint film for director Danny Boyle to follow Trainspotting with. Even with all that mayhem, it’s still a romantic comedy at heart (and in advertisement).Like most Boyle films, this one takes place in a heightened reality, in which angels working as matchmakers disguise themselves as assassins and small-town banks can be robbed with relative ease (well, you’ll get yourself shot in the leg, but it’s not like any cops will look for you once you leave the parking lot).
There are a few appearances of Boyle’s trademark hyper-stylized visuals along the way as Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz stubbornly fall for each other, but things are mostly photographed in ways that are serviceable but not enthralling, which is presumably what prompted a very bored Boyle to make the most insane end-credits sequence ever, in which each character’s post-film fate is summed up with a fantastic claymation cartoon for no particular reason.
5) Clueless (1995)
This movie’s based on Jane Austin’s Emma, but it really feels more like the ’90s answer to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and for good reason—both were directed by Amy Heckerling, and directing the defining high school films of two separate generations is a pretty cool thing to have under your belt.Of all the films in this roundup, this one might be the most quintessentially 90’s. The soundtrack includes No Doubt and Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees,” Mark Wahlberg is referred to as “Marky Mark,” and Paul Rudd mentions a Cranberries CD. There are plot points, but it’s not really accurate to say that Clueless has a plot—like the movies mentioned in the Beautiful Girls entry, this is more of a snapshot of a time and place than a singular, coherent story. But it’s a fantastically composed snapshot, and there's a reason it was the clear winner of our unofficial staff poll of the best ’90s teen movies.
6) I.Q. (1994)
I give this movie a 10/10 based solely on the fact that it has a scene with Meg Ryan and Stephen Fry within the first three minutes of it. The rest of the movie could be Battlefield Earth, and that score would not change. Plus: Not only is Stephen Fry in the first scene, but he’s also a prominent character throughout the film, and watching him play both Meg Ryan’s ill-fitted fiancé and also the exact opposite sort of atheist that he is in real life is just a whole lot of fun.Speaking of fun: Walter Matthau plays Einstein (it’s a period piece), and he’s absolutely perfect as the imagination-loving genius. It’s his love for imagination that makes him take a liking to a blue-collar car mechanic, played by Tim Roth, who happens to be in love with Meg Ryan, who also happens to be Einstein’s niece. As is so often the case, the film largely consists of Einstein and his tight circle of intellectual friends giving Roth’s mechanic character a makeover into being a leading mind in astrophysics, and culling Fry’s stuffy intellectual fiancé character away from the herd. The overall tone is like if The Big Bang Theory were a period piece, shot really well, and didn’t make you feel guilty for watching it if you’re actually smart.
7) Sabrina (1995)
If you’re going to justify remaking a classic film from 1954 that was directed by Billy Wilder and starred Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden, you’d have to get Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear to act in it, and Sydney Pollack to direct it. Luckily, that’s exactly what they did when they remade it in ’95 (evidently, back in the ’90s, remakes of classic pictures weren’t put together by people heavily dosed on ketamine and laughing gas).Guiding the performances required to pull the plot—in which a 20-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man fall for each other—off, let alone with chemistry so good the audience won’t even ponder the age gap, takes a whole lot of talent, and it may have come off extremely weird in a lesser director’s hands. It’s not a classic film, but it’s a sweet one, and certainly worth watching for the performances alone.
As far as being a ’90s film goes, the only real giveaway is that Paul Giamatti gets 17th billing in the end credits. You wouldn’t see that happen after the ’90s ended.
8) While You Were Sleeping (1995)
At first blush, this movie is about love at first sight and stalking people, but it turns out that its message is more about love coming from unexpected places (and still stalking people, a little). It’s your typical ’90s romcom, with sweeping orchestral music and moments that, like most horror films, often have you screaming at the characters onscreen to just do something.
Honestly: This entire film’s plot could have been avoided if Sandra Bullock’s character told the Coma Man’s family, from the start, that she did save Coma Man, but didn’t actually know him. To her credit, she actually does try to say that, but, after being interrupted a couple times, she decides to just give up and pretend to be the guy’s fiancé and hang around his family’s Christmas parties and stuff.I initially thought the plot was overly convoluted and stupid, but thinking about it more made me realize that it actually works on an allegorical level (if you consider that the story is all about genuine, unexpected connections being more important than love-at-first-sight fantasies). Plus, every character in Coma Man’s typical Wacky New York Family is funny, so the story can afford to slink a little bit, anyway—for the first two acts, that is. The last act’s general dumbness is not something that I’m smart enough to B.S. a justification for; it just drags on, and it’s stupid. Unluckily for you, your brain is just as stupid as While You Were Sleeping’s third act is, and even though you’ll know exactly what’s coming for a full half hour before it happens, you’ll still cry when it does.
9) Sliding Doors (1998)
I’d always thought the conceit of Sliding Doors sounded like an excellent concept for a short film, or maybe a late night, half-drunk conversation at IHOP, but I never watched it because I could never imagine how they’d manage to squeeze a feature out of it. Well, I was stupid: It actually turns out to work very well as a feature. It’s structured in a quantum style, covering the same time period but cutting between the two potential universes that were created when a pair of train doors closed—one in which Gwyneth Paltrow ends up on the train and one in which she doesn’t.Luckily, we can easily tell which universe we’re currently in by Paltrow’s various bandages and hairstyles (things would have gotten awfully confusing without those surface level details in there). Writer Peter Howitt is only credited as a writer on one other film, which is a shame, because Sliding Doors is written really well. The characters always feel human, including the Bad Guy, who is an asshole but always stays on the jackass side of being cheaply evil. The ending, though… well, feel free to email me to discuss how stupid it is and how it is on so many levels. It’s rare to see so much good will earned by a film go down the toilet in a matter of six minutes.
10) Groundhog Day (1993)
If there’s an upside to Groundhog Day ruining director/longtime friend and collaborator Harold Ramis and Bill Murray’s friendship for 21 years, it’s the fact that the film responsible for that fallout turned out to be an immortal classic.
Like Phil’s ever-repeating day, Groundhog Day is endlessly rewatchable, and some of its quality may have actually come from Ramis and Murray’s on-set feud: Murray evidently wanted a far darker film and was so upset with the slapstick nature of the montage in which he kills himself over and over again that he deliberately acted, like any actor only showing up due to contractual obligations, as bored and disengaged as possible. The resulting performance of Murray’s disdain ended up perfectly reflecting Phil’s emotional state. If Murray had been in complete agreement with the film’s tone, his performance may have been less outstanding.
We’re lucky that the only big Groundhog Day movie is a good one—it’ll likely hold its crown of The G-Day movie for decades, and it deserves that crown. Even if, for whatever reason, Hollywood decides Groundhog Day movies are the Next Big Thing and releases a dozen of them, I’d find it hard to believe that any would be close to the quality of this one.
11) Chasing Amy (1997)
I was a massive Kevin Smith fan back in my high school days (’00-’04), and I can honestly say that I loved all of his films equally (although, technically, my favorite would change week to week). The only one I didn’t watch with an unhealthy frequency was Chasing Amy. Maybe it was too much rom and not enough com for me back then, but looking back on it now, it’s clear that it’s his best film. If I’d watched it more than Mallrats, I might be less of an idiot with girls today (I still thought a heartfelt speech could get you a girlfriend until approximately 2013, after it failed to work for the hundredth time).It’s without a doubt Smith’s most honest work. Holden and Alyssa’s relationship is filled with so many pathetic actions and insecurity that it must have come from a painfully honest place in Smith’s heart. After Amy, Smith dipped into the surreal with Dogma, and then went full-blown screwball with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. When he returned to a more personal place with Jersey Girl, he was brutally gutted by critics and fans alike, and he’s never made anything serious again.
12) Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
I already wrote about Sleepless in Seattle in this roundup (No. 15), but this point bears repeating: When it comes to collaborations between Nora Ephron, Tom Hanks, and Meg Ryan, I prefer You’ve Got Mail. Unfortunately, that’s still not streaming on Netflix (and joy to the day when I can finally pour my soul out by writing about that one and hugely embarrass myself).Sleepless is a good movie—perhaps even a classic—it just doesn’t connect with me like it does with a lot of other people. But, it does connect very much with a lot of other people, so definitely give it a go if you haven’t already seen it.
Screengrabs via Netflix | Remix by Joey Keeton
So Daenerys Targaryen might’ve been lying to us after all this time.
Daenerys (or, as we know her in the real world, Kristen Wiig) took a break from ruling Meereen to stop by The Tonight Show for a nice chat with Jimmy Fallon, and in the process we learned quite a bit about the khaleesi. Her name’s actually Karen, she has a dragon named Carl—and a very well-behaved one at that—and she’s trying her hand at standup comedy.
Also, Carl didn’t burn down the studio, so NBC has to be happy and relieved about that—and loads better than the last time a dragon made it onto a TV set.Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube
Not every artist who wins a Grammy gets to walk home with it right away, but they do get to have a quiet moment when they finally receive it. Well, unless you’re “Weird Al” Yankovic and decide to showcase it for everyone in an unboxing video.
It took about three months for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) to finally send him his Grammy, so he decided to take his sweet time opening it and focusing in on the finer details.
Since most of us will never get a Grammy, Yankovic walks us through what you can and can't do with the award—and the box it comes in.And besides, he’s just gonna toss them with the rest of his Grammys anyway.
Screengrab via alyankovic/YouTube
Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs, who recently co-wrote “Knockoffs” and “Coat Check” in Broad City’s second season, will write the script together. The new spinoff will help Sony broaden the cinematic universe in which the the film exists.
The movie doesn't have a director, a cast, or a plot yet, but if the two films starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are any indication, we can probably expect two female cops going undercover somewhere to solve a wave of crimes. Hopefully the film will include the sort of humor we've come to expect from Aniello and Downs.
We can also expect an inevitable backlash from some 21 Jump Street fans crying that a spinoff with female characters will ruin the entire franchise, while the rest of the Internet rolls its eyes.
21 Jump Street began as a TV show starring Johnny Depp, became two recent films, and might spawn a crossover with Men in Black. The very least we can hope for is that Sony will cool it and not announce another male-driven spinoff to derail this one.
Whether you know him best as the solo artist, the frontman for Whiskeytown, or as the recently departed ex-husband of Mandy Moore, Ryan Adams is enigmatic, and his performance on Wednesday night does pleasantly little to explain the musician's inner workings.
Some backstory before we get to the delightful alt-folk stylings of Mr. Adams: When he played a show in 2002 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, a fan jokingly cried out that he should play a song by Bryan Adams—after all, their names sound so similar. Adams was far from thrilled at the heckle. He shut down and refused to play another note until the fan left.
On Wednesday night, 13 years later in the same Nashville venue, Adams launched into the other Adams' eternal hit song "Summer of '69," unprompted and without explanation. It comes across as an apologetic wink to his fans and suggests a much more mature musical artist at work.
And the crowd went nuts. Roll the tape:
YouTubers are often known for broadcasting their lives from inside their own bedrooms, so a travel show like #HeyUSA, helmed by YouTube star Mamrie Hart, pushes the boundaries and the comfort zone of today’s biggest digital celebrities.
Last season Hart criss-crossed the United States with fellow YouTuber Grace Helbig, however, with a second season on the table, Helbig booked her own late night talk show for E! that kept her rooted in California. Helbig and Hart had to get creative to keep the show going.
“We came up with the concept that I meet other YouTubers out on the road, and Grace acts as the puppet master telling us where to go and what to do,” explained Hart.
In an upcoming episode, Hart takes on Tennessee with Jenna Marbles, the most-subscribed female YouTuber in the business.
“I love cheesy Americana,” said Hart. “That is my jam. [Grace] hasn’t really screwed us over. I’ve had to do a couple activities that were like, ‘what the hell?’ In Gatlinburg, [Tenn.], we went to a lumberjack dinner show. We had to learn how to do the tree climbing, and it’s a very unflattering angle.”Of bonding with Marbles, Hart said: “We’d only hung out a couple times, and that was at her house or at a convention,” Hart said. “We’d never had that much one-on-one time. We get along fantastic; she’s super sweet, and we just talk about our dogs 90 percent of the time.”
While she’s gotten to do some amazing things, like learn to drive a back-hoe in an adult construction machine playground, she’s also enjoyed the chance to connect with fellow YouTubers whom she doesn’t see often.
“It’s such a new dynamic, and some of these co-hosts and I are getting to know each other on the road,” she said. “Some of them have never done a hosting gig before, so they’re learning their style. There’s no place to become better friends than somewhere completely random.”
As Helbig continues to pull the strings from afar, Hart’s hopeful that if there’s another season, they might have to “think of some different titles” so they can go beyond the United States.
“I’d like to take it out of the U.S.,” she said. “I’ve got my passport ready to rock, and I’ve got my name cleared of all charges.”
Her dream overseas destination would be Europe, since it has the most variety. Until they can hop the pond, #HeyUSA is staying stateside, and Hart, known for her boozy antics, says she’s thematically drinking her way through her travels.
“Jenna and I went hard on the moonshine,” laughed Hart. “We went hard on the straight up moonshine they can now sell, but we also—spoiler alert—drank moonshine from a flask from a man’s pocket while we were fishing. The real stuff. To quote him, ‘You can feel it drip off your brain.’ We took a sip and he said, ‘now don’t smoke a cigarette, you can breathe fire.’”
Photo courtesy of Astronauts Wanted
The Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the hottest thing in comedy television right now, so it's only natural that someone would create a mashup blending UBS with the M. Night Shyamalan film Unbreakable.
Yes, you read that right. Someone saw UBS and thought, "This needs more M. Night Shyamalan."
The twee theme song only underscores how gritty the accompanying visuals are. Christopher Nolan himself would be envious of Shyamalan's ability to create tortured superheroes like this.New York comedy group Super Secret Show, which created the mashup, conveyed one viewer's thoughts on their Tumblr: "This guy gets it," they added.
Alright, be honest. After watching this mashup, who's in the mood for an M. Night revival?
Screengrab via thetrailersite/YouTube
It's intriguing how history is able to apply a respectable, if not outright romantic, gloss to even the most reprehensible figures.
Blackbeard—appearing now in bear form—has his murderous, psychopathic urges dismissed as a mere by-product of the rough and tumble Golden Age of Piracy. And although dismembering prostitutes would horrify today, Jack the Ripper maintains a legacy mollified by some sort of Victorian pantomime mystique.
It's even a phenomenon of the modern day. No one seems to remember that Matthew Broderick killed someone. Because, hey, he forgets why he was driving on the wrong side of the road, so why shouldn't you.
So it's nice to finally have someone calling out history's worst for what they really are: Assholes.In the first of six episodes of Above Average's Forgotten Assholes of History we are introduced to Herbert Kitchener, the British commander-in-chief during the time of the Second Boer War in what is now known as South Africa.
While Lord Kitchener (as he was then styled) is hardly unknown or forgotten—he does, after all feature in one of the more memorable posters of all time—his role in the creation of concentration camps is often overlooked.
The Second Boer War, reductively described in the series as "two types of white people fighting over who could steal the most gold and diamonds from Africa," saw the British adopting a "scorched Earth" policy to slow the guerilla fighting of the Boer (descendants of Dutch settlers) enemy. This included the internment of civilians.
By 1901, over 93,000 Boers and 24,000 black Africans were reported to be in these camps. About one quarter of the Boer inmates and (a very conservatively estimated) 12 per cent of the black Africans interned died, through a combination of disease, starvation, and exposure; a product of the disgraceful indifference and incompetence of their captors.
This is all mentioned by the series—presented by the lively Siobhan Thompson—but there are details that they missed that paint Kitchener in an even poorer light.
After news of the deaths filtered back to Britain, and debate raged within Parliament, Kitchener called to account and in an apparent act of contrition, issued directives that no more families were to be brought into camps. While such a move may have appeased the concerned parties in Westminster, Kitchener made the decision fully aware that with their farming lands now destroyed and homesteads burnt to the ground the survival of the remaining civilians would be almost impossible.
Perhaps "asshole" is a little too kind.
Screengrab via Above Average/YouTube
If you want to live in a Kardashian-free world, there's now an ad block for that.
"We don't care about how Kanye & Kim didn't care when Amy Schumer 'fell over,'" reads the website. "We don't care about who the Kardashians are or aren't sleeping with. We don't care that Kim dyed her hair blonde. We don't care about the Kardashians."
Sure, there's a lot of other news going on in the world that can sometimes get overshadowed by tabloid gossip, including that about the Kardashian clan. But there is, on the rare occasion, important news that relates to the famous family, especially recently with Bruce Jenner's groundbreaking interview about his gender identity. "We do ... care about raising awareness of transsexuality, the one benefit of the Kardashians," KardBlock says, although it offers no way to filter in Bruce Jenner news while still keeping out the rest of his family.
The KardBlock team says its next project is to filter out Justin Bieber. Fortunately, a Bieber-free Web app has been available since 2010, when the Shaved Bieber bookmarklet and add-on helped block out all mentions of the Canadian singer.
Wanting to extricate an ever-present Web celeb from your content is nothing new, but the Internet is infinite. Kardashian content can live right beside politics. And when it intersects, you won't be missing out because of an ad block.
Photo via Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III