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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Netflix has acquired a new feature film to add to its burgeoning library of originals. The streaming video-on-demand service is working on the comedy flick Divanation, starring favorites Bette MidlerGoldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton.

    Written by Lisa Addario and Joey SyracuseDivanation features Midler, Hawn, and Keaton as three estranged members of a formerly popular singing group who are forced to get together again nearly 30 years after their harsh split. The comedy, originally confirmed by Deadline, will reunite actresses Midler, Hawn, and Keaton, who all starred together in the 1996 romcom The First Wives Club. Mythology Entertainment’s Brad FischerJames Vanderbilt, and William Sherak will produce Divanation alongside Alan NevinsTracey Nyberg is set as an executive producer.

    Divanation is a solid example of how Netflix is looking to expand its demographic reach, especially in terms of older generations. For example, the streaming platform recently found great success with its original series Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. That series, which hasn’t yet debuted its second season, was already renewed for a third thanks to its popularity (ironically driven by a tweet from millennial-aged Miley Cyrus).

    Netflix will move forward on production of Divanation as soon as the streaming platform finalizes the script and hires a director. No release date has been announced for the comedy movie as of yet.

    Screengrab via Paramount Movies/YouTube

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    “You used to call me on my cell phone…”

    The silence is almost deafening in my office, broken only by the clatter of fingers hitting keys and a stray cough. So I can’t help but feel somewhat responsible for the ban on music that I may have caused by playing “Hotline Bling” every day for a month. Hear me out.

    First of all, I really like “Hotline Bling”—I think it’s a really touching song with an even better music video—so a big part of me actually wanted to listen to it every single day (sometimes twice a day) for a month. I didn’t do it out of love, though, nor did I subject my fellow 200-plus employees to Drake’s new single as an experiment. I did it for me. I live in a hazy fantasy world in which I’m never really serious but never quite joking. Repercussions and comeuppance are nothing more than challenges that inspire and fuel a solid chunk of my life.

    It began shortly after the release of the “Hotline Bling” music video. I had recently gained access to my open office’s speaker system, a decision the bearer of the precious password of the wireless speakers now calls “a fucking awful decision.” I began playing the song once a day around 11am. Nobody said a thing that first week, even as the trademark “You used to…” filled the office; the only reactions were smiling and silent bobbing to the exceptional Drake jam.

    A few days later, I played around with the medium, sometimes playing “Hotline Bling” twice in a row or putting the song on midway through another song. The reactions that followed continued to be on the minor side and mostly consisted of scattered laughs and Slack conversations asking why I was playing the song twice in a row.

    I must tip my hat to the people who went along with the joke for as long as they did, letting furious giggle fits ensue after hours of silence were followed by a completely warranted “You used to…” The truth is, nobody really got mad until the end… when they all started getting really, really mad.

    It started with one girl walking up to the speakers and physically unplugging them. Next, groans of anger and disbelief saturated the office as “You used to…” crept in from every single corner of the floor. People started asking questions: “Is this you on the music?” “Dude, how many times are you going to play this song?” and “Plz stop.” But I didn’t stop—not yet.

    I knew my fun was coming to the end when a guy quit.

    I’m almost positive that this particular guy—we’ll call him Craig—didn’t quit because of my music, but he got the impression that the office he thought was professional was actually packed full of Drake-loving heathens like clowns in one of those cars. He would provide the funniest reactions to my hijinks, literally screaming out “fuck! shit!” and storming off into a conference room every single time “You used to…” broke the silence. The crème de la crème came the night I tried to play “Hotline Bling” for the 1,500th time and the speaker’s name on the wireless network mysteriously disappeared.

    They told us they were temporarily offline for “updates,” but we all knew the answer. It was because of me, because of “Hotline Bling.” Regardless of the resounding clickity-clack-clickity-clack of fingers hitting keyboard keys that now fill floor five of my building, I don’t regret a thing. Do I want to listen to music? Yes. Do I miss singing along to “You used to…?” Of course! Is a lifetime of quietude worth a dumb joke that happened for the sole purpose of happening?


    Illustration by Max Fleishman

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    Christmas just came early for some Star Wars fans—and no, we’re not talking about the impending release of The Force Awakens.

    The people behind Bad Lip Reading—who have made a stir with their renditions of Game of Thrones, the NFL, and first GOP debate—are back to take on a Force bigger than that galaxy far, far away: Star Wars

    And they’ve recruited Jack Black, Maya Rudolph, and Bill Hader (one of the voices of BB-8) to help them do it.

    If you’re looking to catch up on the series before The Force Awakens is released Friday, look no further. Instead of having to watch hours of a familiar story, you’ll only need to sit down for approximately seven minutes per video to watch all of these—but it’s definitely not your parents’ Star Wars.

    It’s not so much about Luke’s journey learning the powers of the Force and the fight between the Rebels and the Galactic Empire anymore. Instead the story boils down to the simple things, like Darth Vader’s attempts to send Leia helmet pics, Han’s brilliant idea to build a baby Taco Bell, and a musical number from an unlikely source.

    In The Empire Strikes Back, Vader shows that he’s a much better employer than we give him credit for, we learn what Luke did in Dagobah, and Lando is just trying to throw a good party.

    While Bad Lip Reading's trilogy has a lot fewer Ewoks, you’re left with Jabba the Hutt’s attempts at redecorating his digs and Luke’s wish for a rap girlfriend.

    It’s hard to top the original Star Wars trilogy, but these come pretty close to it.

    Screengrab via Bad Lip Reading/YouTube

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    The holidays might call for us to be merry and spread good cheer, but good tidings are noticeably absent from the depths of Twitter, where there will always be plenty of garbage tweets for celebrities to read aloud.

    The classic Jimmy Kimmel segment is back, featuring the likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael B. Jordan, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, Viola Davis, and Matthew Perry reading the horrible things the Twitterverse has said about them. 

    It’s a mix of insults on the celebrities’ looks, their acting abilities, or displays of potty humor. And sometimes, such as Kurt Russell’s tweet about his face being made of aged denim, the jabs might actually sound kind of awesome.

    It’s full of scowls, forced smiles, and laughter, but Sarah Paulson easily takes the cake on the art of owning your troll.

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

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    You call for a car, and Macaulay Culkin picks you up in a red Honda, makes you do all the driving, and chain smokes while he recounts the time his family left him all alone at his house during Christmas time, stalked by two burglars.

    It’s not a fever dream, it’s the first episode of a new webseries called :DRYVRS.

    Everyone has a tale of a crazy Uber or Lyft driver sharing way too much during the ride, but creator Jack Dishel decided to turn that experience into a YouTube series. He’s tapping some of his famous friends, like Rosanna Arquette and Culkin, to fill the role of driver in these short films. Culkin, whom Dishel has known for five years and with whom he’s previously worked on music videos and short films, was completely on board parodying his most iconic role fromHome Alone in the series.

    “I was like, ‘You’re gonna say no, and I know this is absolutely crazy, and no one in their right mind if they were you would say yes to this,’” said Dishel of how he explained the gag to Culkin. “There was zero reluctance. When I pitched him the idea, he just started giggling. Personally, I feel really honored he chose to break that seal with me. Obviously, everyone is constantly associating him with that. He’ll be 75 and people will be passing him on the street slapping their cheeks and yelling.”

    Dishel views the premiere episode, “Just Me in the House by Myself,” as a dark comic epilogue to the Home Alone franchise.

    “For me, I just thought it was hilarious to explore the idea of that guy, who under any kind of real world circumstances would be absolutely traumatized by his experience,” he said.

    Each episode will live as a universe unto itself, but stay connected through the fictional company of :DRYVERS.

    “I had this incredible hot streak of really bizarre conversations, like five in a row to the point where we couldn’t start recording until I sat everyone down and started explaining,” Dishel laughed of the series’ origins. “At some point I realized each of them was a little mini movie. They had a natural arc to them. An Uber ride or a short cab ride, they have a natural beginning, middle, and end.”

    So far Dishel is writing each short to suit the actor friend he’s tapping for the project, with the stories being inspired by some actual encounters, but amplified for comedic value. The project is fully independent, with no backing or network behind him.

    “This is all favors; it’s all stuck together with gum and tape,” he explained.

    With no sponsors, Dishel knows he might have some challenges in keeping up momentum as he releases the series over the next year, but that’s not his primary concern with the series.

    “I don’t know that we’ll be able to roll this out super smooth on an assembly line,” Dishel said. “I want people to watch it and I am definitely excited about the idea of it being popular, but I am much more excited about the idea of making it awesome.”

    Image courtesy of Jack Dishel

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    If you've sensed a disturbance in the Force, it might be because a new Kardashian nude has surfaced. 

    It's been a year since Kim Kardashian attempted to break the Internet with her butt, and now Kourtney Kardashian is giving it a shot. She posted a photo to Instagram on Wednesday, captioned with the (sorely underused) creepy smiling moon emoji. 

    The photos are part of a series by Brian Bowen Smith, and they will definitely make you immediately want to start doing squats again. This also might be the one thing on the Internet today that is not Star Wars promo. 

    H/T Mandatory | Photo via SouthFloridaBeachPhotos/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Our first look at Fuller House, the Netflixsequel series to Full House, is finally here and practically nothing has changed.

    It’s less of a tease and more of a capsule look at the old San Francisco home where the Tanners resided more than 20 years ago. The kids have all grown up by now and Comet is most likely gone, but the house has stayed the same as D.J. prepares to move in—presumably in part because San Francisco is expensive for a newly single mother. (There’s not even a spare laptop or a tablet lying around to show that it isn’t the ’90s anymore.)

    We don’t see any of the old cast members (and we haven’t learned what Fuller House will do about the Michelle-sized hole), but those familiar catchphrases are still there—and the new dog is certainly excited to welcome everyone home. But will nostalgia alone be enough to carry it?

    All 13 episodes of Fuller House will debut on Netflix on Feb. 26.

    Screengrab via Netflix US & Canada/YouTube

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    It's not a true holiday if the Holderness Family doesn't put on matching pajamas and make a parody video, and Christmas 2015 is no exception.

    The Holderness Family started the tradition in 2013 with a YouTube video that also served as the announcement of their new business making viral videos for brands and politicians. Their family-themed version of Will Smith's "Miami" included tidbits like mom being in Iron Man 3 and dad getting a vasectomy. This year they parody Kendrick Lamar's "i" as an elf-themed anthem to celebrating the holidays.

    Highlights for the family in the past year included Lola joining a basketball team, Penn Charles having 8 girlfriends now, and the whole family getting parodied on Saturday Night Live

    The family has branched out to Thanksgiving and Halloween parodies as well, but nothing is as iconic as their annual Christmas Jammies moment. Jam on, Holdernesses.

    Screengrab via The Holderness Family/YouTube

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    Tickets for Adele shows across the nation went on sale Thursday morning, and since she seems to be single-handedly saving the music industry with record-breaking album sales, it's not surprising that buying those ducats wasn't necessarily going to be a pleasant experience.

    And for many people on Twitter, trying to buy tickets through Ticketmaster was an unmitigated disaster.

    Even trying to procure tickets the old-fashioned way didn't help matters, either by phone or in person.

    If you couldn't get Adele tickets—and that's likely a whole bunch of you—at least you can listen to this kick-ass version of "Hello" to brighten your day.

    As for me, my wife wanted me to get two tickets, and an hour into the experience, this is what I've been watching. I'm still waiting (without much hope).

    But at least a few people succeeded in their lengthy quest.

    Screengrab via AdeleVEVO/YouTube

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    YouTuber Jesse Wellens—whose PrankvsPrank channel has more than 9.3 million subscribers—took a break from comedy Wednesday evening to tweet about something more serious.

    His mother, who suffers from depression, has gone missing near his hometown in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Wellens hopes that his legions of fans might be able to help spot her. 

    Wellens first tweeted a photo of a light gold 2000 Lexus RS, the car his mom was last seen driving:

    He then followed up with a note from his phone that provided more detail, and a photo of his mother to help people ID her:

    The tweets sparked an outpouring of fan support. One fan started the hashtag #FindJessesMom to try and get it trending: 

    The YouTuber was silent overnight, but tweeted Thursday morning thanking fans for their encouragement: 

    And updated Thursday afternoon with her license plate number:

    The Daily Dot has reached out for comment and will update with any information. If you think you might have information that could help, Wellens can be reached via his Twitter.

    H/T Tech Insider | Screengrab via PrankvsPrank/YouTube

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    A new initiative from the Amy Poehler's Smart GirlsYouTube channel and EA's The Sims hopes to show young women there's a diversity of career options in STEM beyond the stereotypes.

    Young women are often taking as much or more math and science courses as their male counterparts. But as they enter the workforce there's a wide gender disparity that disadvantages women in STEM—an industry acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math—with only 22 percent of the gaming workforce made up of women in 2014, despite being the largest demographic in gaming consumers.

    "I think tech and gaming are two industries that are still really seen as run by males and marketed to males, and it’s all about changing that perception," explained Maggie Lyons, director of development for Amy Poehler's Smart Girls. 

    In their Smart Girls Build series, the channel teams up with The Sims to bring real teen girls to the EA offices and get a firsthand look at how the games are made, and find ways to include their own unique talents in the final product.

    The series is not only about inspiring STEM jobs, but simply inspiring girls to create around their passions.

    “At Smart Girls, we encourage girls to pursue the things they’re passionate about, and the great thing about The Sims is that girls can play out the possibilities of where those passions can take them in their own lives," explained Lyons. "If you love dance or music or photography, you can explore what you can do with your Sim in the game and even discover a path that hadn’t occurred to you before. Girls learn how to navigate their worlds, face challenges, express themselves, and build their own story."

    In the videos, a young woman is paired with a female game producer at EA working on different aspects of The Sims world, and helped to bring her ideas to life. While many other game development companies have faced backlash in their communities over the inclusion or lack thereof of women in their industry, Lyndsay Pearson, creative director and senior producer for The Sims 4, said the community around The Sims is unique in that members are more positive than their broader counterparts.

    "We’re very fortunate, that our game, being very open and creative, we have a very positive community," Pearson explained. "Our fans are always trying to help each other create something beautiful. We’ve been fortunate to avoid some of the negativity that is potentially prevalent in other parts of the industry."

    Positive or not, women still have an uphill battle to climb in terms of equality in STEM jobs, in the gaming industry and beyond. Pearson sees this partnership as a unique way to show the diversity of career options open in the gaming fields.

    "You don’t have to be a core engineer to get into games," Pearson said. "There’s a lot of a different roles that come together to make a video game or to put together tech. Being able to highlight these role models and career options gives people exposure to fields they might not have considered."

    Screengrab via Amy Poehler's Smart Girls/YouTube

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    Los Angeles Police arrested 15-year-old YouTuber Steven Fernandez last month on suspicion that he attempted to exploit a 12-year-old girl, with the charges only coming to light this week.

    Fernandez allegedly approached the 12-year-old victim on Ventura Boulevard on Nov. 12. He asked her to enter a car, driven by his 22-year-old manager Jose Barajas. According to police, Fernandez promised to introduce the girl to celebrities and feature her on a fake MTV show in exchange for sexual acts performed on Fernandez, Barajar, and a fellow skateboarder, 27-year-old Keelan Dadd. Los Angeles Police arrested Barajar and Fernandez Nov. 17, with Dadd turning himself in Dec 3. Since the arrest, Fernandez has continued to post to his 1 million Instagram followers.

    Los Angeles Police issued a statement on the investigation Dec. 17 in hopes of finding more potential victims.

    "Fernandez and his buddies used his fame and brand to sexually exploit the very girls who made the men rich and famous," wrote Detective Ninette Toosbuy of the West Valley Detective Division. "We're taking exceptional measures to find additional victims because the fate of some young lives may be at stake."

    In recent years YouTube has faced a rash of accusations and issues dealing with sexual misconduct, often with male YouTubers who've used their fame to allegedly manipulate female fans. Most cases have fallen shy of police involvement. In this case, police suspect the trio drove around soliciting other victims, and have released their information in hopes that other potential victims come forward. Searching for that kind of information about a social media celebrity presents its own set of challenges for police.

    "Although social media has been around for quite a while now, and social media is very much a part of what we do for our investigations for sex crimes, it is not often that we deal with it in the terms of somebody with celebrity status," Det. Toosbuy told the Daily Dot. "Social media plays a role in many of our investigations because many of our victims are younger and it's a primary way they communicate. But in this case, when we're dealing with somebody who's somewhat famous, it's a whole different scale. We're dealing with communications of people we don't even know who they are."

    Fans have begun reacting on social media to the accusations, with some comparing Fernandez to the outrage over Sam Pepper and Carter Reynolds. Fernandez posted to Twitter last on Wednesday, asking fans not to give up on him.

    Toosbuy said they are waiting for more widespread media coverage to see if more victims come forward. As of now, they  have one other potential victim, but calls it too premature to officially declare her one.

    Fernandez has built his brand on social media on pickup tricks, with his most recent video nine months ago a compilation of him hitting on unsuspecting girls on the street. 

    As a minor, Fernandez was released to his mother with an ankle monitor until his court date. Barajas and Dadd posted their $475,000 and $200,000 bail, respectively.

    A statement released by Fernandez's lawyer, Ryan D’Ambrosio, claims Fernandez, also a minor, is himself a victim of the two adults involved. It reads in part: “Once the investigation is complete, I think evidence will show that Steven’s celebrity status was preyed on by the adults who were arrested in this matter. We won’t be making further statements until the investigation is complete.” 

    Anyone with information about the crime can contact the Los Angeles police at (877) 527-3247.

    H/T Masheble | Screengrab via Steven Fernandez/YouTube

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    When people learned that the most hated man on the Internet, Martin Shkreli, was arrested by the FBI on Thursday morning for securities fraud, there were two major reactions. (Well, three, if you wondered about the attractiveness of the agents who placed him in handcuffs.)

    Judging by most Facebook feeds and Twitter timelines, people were extraordinarily pleased to learn that Shkreli was in trouble with the law—probably because the 32-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals had been infamous for acquiring a life-saving AIDS drug and then raising the price more than 5,000 percent. And some people wondered about the whereabouts of Shkreli's most famous purchase—the latest album from Wu-Tang Clan, who made just one copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and then sold it to Shkreli for $2 million.

    The FBI was quick to let people know that it wasn't in possession of the album.

    But did Shkreli give his most avid fans a clue on Wednesday night when he was livestreaming on YouTube?

    As Gawker notes, the album had been stored in a hotel vault in Monaco while the rap group waited for a buyer, and it's unclear if Shkreli had actually received a physical copy of the album yet. But he might actually have it in his possession, and he might have brandished it Wednesday night. (While, weirdly enough, listening to post-hardcore band Thursday's minor hit, "Understanding In a Car Crash.")

    As Gawker notes: 

    Known photos of the record show a 'silver-and-nickel box' with engraving covering its face, save for a bare patch in the shape of Wu-Tang’s famous curling 'W' logo. What Shkreli shows is the opposite: a clean face with an engraved logo. That said, it’s quite possible that what Shkreli holds up to the camera could be the final, inmost case in series of cases like Russian nesting dolls containing the album.

    But what will happen to the album if Shkreli eventually goes to trial and is found guilty? As Yahoo explains, "If Shkreli is ultimately found guilty, the next stop for the sole copy of the legendary hip-hop group’s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is likely the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the U.S. Marshals Service—that is, assuming he hasn’t destroyed or hidden it."

    The Atlantic also has come up with a few scenarios in which the album might be taken out of his possession, including the idea that the Feds could seize the album if it's determined he used the profit from his alleged schemes in order to buy it or if he's found guilty and has to pay a substantial fine as part of his punishment. The Atlantic also theorizes that Shkreli, at some point, might need to sell the album in order to raise funds for his legal defense.

    But for now, nobody seems to know the whereabouts of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, or if what people saw Wednesday was the real deal. Maybe we should just ask Bill Murray.

    H/T Gawker | Screengrab via CNBC/Youtube

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    During a chat with J.J. Abrams and Harrison Ford about The Force Awakens, Conan O'Brien invited the show's associate producer and Star Warsfanatic, Jordan Schlansky, to ask the duo a question. It's probably a simple one, right?


    The Luke Skywalker lightsaber from the original 1977 film was made from a vintage Graflex camera flash. It had seven plastic grips attached to the handle, and a Texas Instruments Exactra calculator LED bubblestrip. When the lightsaber returns in The Empire Strikes Back, it only has six grips on the handle, and each grip had a notch cut out to accomodate a visible fastener. Additionally, the bubblestrip had been replaced by a vintage computer connector board. The Force Awakens trailer once again features the same lightsaber, still with the correct vintage computer board, and still with the notches cut out of the handle grips—as we last saw them. However, it is unclear as to whether there are six or seven grips on the handle. Can you please confirm whether The Force Awakens Luke Skywalker lightsaber has six, or seven, grips?

    Abrams lets Ford handle the question, who answers it—at long last—definitively:


    Schlansky then asks if Ford can sign his Lego replica of the Millennium Falcon, which took him about 60 hours to build in 2010, and is worth around $5,000. Schlansky calls it the "flagship piece" of his massive collection of Star Wars memorabilia—and how much cooler would it be with Han Solo's signature on it?

    He hands it to Ford, and this happens:

    Can you blame the guy for the "accident," though? That bastard ship broke his leg while they were filming. He deserves his revenge.

    Check out the whole sketch here, and remember to see The Force Awakens sometime in the next six months that it'll be in theaters. Also make sure to buy your Force Awakens soap, towels, sodas, video games, and lawnchairs, etc.—nobody wants to be a half-ass fan.

    H/T Team Coco | Screengrab via Team Coco/YouTube

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    Even if you’re a Grinch, a Scrooge, or a Hans Gruber, you can at least enjoy the holiday season by curling up with some hot cocoa and Netflix. To get you started, here are eight Christmas-inspired titles available for streaming now.

    1) White Christmas (1954)

    This one is a true Christmas classic. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye star as pals in a song-and-dance act who fall for a pair of sisters around the holidays, and—as expected—hijinks ensue. A light musical, featuring Irving Berlin’s eternally popular eponymous song, White Christmas feels fairly antiquated today, but that’s also what makes it charming. (Some fun facts: the movie co-stars Rosemary Clooney, as in George’s aunt, and was directed by Michael Curtiz—best known for a little film called Casablanca.)

    2) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

    Is it a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie? The filmmaker believes it to be the latter, but that doesn’t mean people don’t watch this Tim Burton–produced cult classic and animation staple around Christmas too. Nightmare isn’t just for Hot Topic fans anymore. Director Henry Selick’s stop-motion tale of Jack Skellington and his quest to understand Christmas has become an essential film for an entire generation. It’s still widely viewed today, and the music from composer Danny Elfman is instantly recognizable to many.

    The Nightmare Before Christmas is weird and a little bit scary. But if you have trouble deciding whether your favorite day of the year falls on Oct. 31 or Dec. 25, this movie may appeal to your inner high school goth.

    3) The Ref (1994)

    The Ref’s cast alone makes it worth watching. Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis play a bickering couple who are taken hostage by a cat burglar (Denis Leary) on Christmas Eve. That cat burglar then has to suffer through—and try to mediate—the couple’s hateful sniping. The Oscar-nominated Davis and the comically reliable Leary are great, but Spacey is particularly fascinating to watch, as he was still a year away from the superstardom that came with his turn in The Usual Suspects.

    Though not an outright classic, The Ref is just a solid, well-structured comedy. Largely forgotten in some ways, the movie succeeds in its biting assertion that while Christmas is supposed to help people come together, it can often be another factor driving them apart.  

    4) I'll Be Home for Christmas (1998)

    This is one for all the so-called “’90s kids” out there. Starring not only one of the era’s favorite sons, Mr. Jonathan Taylor Thomas, this Disney throwback also features a young Jessica Biel in one of her first film roles.

    I’ll Be Home for Christmas is not a great movie, but its nostalgic pleasures are strong, and it’s not without its charms. Thomas stars as Jake, a college student who encounters all manner of difficulties in his quest to return to his childhood home in upstate New York. Contrived? Absolutely. But if you grew up with JTT and want something light that’ll bring back memories of childhood, this is the pick for you.

    5) Love Actually (2003)

    Hatedandmaligned as it is loved, Richard Curtis’ self-proclaimed “ultimate romantic comedy” has also turned into a bona fide holiday classic. People watch it year after year around Christmas, and in many ways, the season in which the film is set is inseparable from its story.

    Containing nine different subplots, each involving people looking for love leading up to the 25th, this movie is as sappy as romantic comedies get. But despite the fact that it’s dripping with sentiment, Love Actually does manage transcend the traditional romantic comedy in a few key ways. Not everybody gets an easy, happy ending, and there’s an ambiguity to the film’s conclusion which is surprising and refreshing.

    Then again, if you’re simply looking for some dumb, cutesy entertainment to watch as you cuddle with your significant other, Love Actually will work for that too. It’s a great “Netflix and chill” movie, because it’s good enough to keep on, but not so good that you can’t let yourself get distracted and shut it off.

    6) Bad Santa (2003)

    Bad Santa may just be the darkest Christmas movie ever made. Featuring Billy Bob Thornton in one of his best roles, the film follows a horny, depressed, suicidal, alcoholic, grossly inappropriate mall Santa named Willie and his inadvertent road to redemption leading up to Christmas Eve. Bad Santa also has a terrific supporting cast, including Tony Cox, Bernie Mac, John Ritter, Cloris Leachman, Alex Borstein, Billy Gardell, Octavia Spencer, and Gilmore Girls’ very own Lauren Graham (soon returning to a Netflix account near you!) as Willie’s Santa-fetishist love interest.

    The movie tries to shoehorn in a message about consumer culture right before the end, and while the point is an apt one, the real fun of the movie is watching Willie be, as the title suggests, the absolute worst Santa of all time. His debauchery is so severe, there are times where it’s hardly even funny. But, in the spirit of Christmas and Christmas movies, he manages to redeem himself by the end. While Bad Santa is a dark comedy of the highest order, its lasting message may be, ironically, that Christmas can bring out the best in even the worst people.

    Longtime fans of the movie look out: a long-awaited sequel is reportedly on the way next year.

    7) Fireplace for Your Home (2010)

    Because why not.

    8) The Search for Santa Paws (2010) and Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012)

    It seems unlikely that anyone’s ever actually seen these movies. But puppies!

    9) Happy Christmas (2014)

    This indie from Chicago director Joe Swanberg, who made a name for himself as one of the forefathers of the “mumblecore” movement, is a far cry from your traditional Christmas movie. Not a lot happens in this dry comedy, and the melancholy story of 20-something fuck-up Jenny, who moves in with her brother and his wife after a bad break-up, isn't filled with a ton of holiday cheer. But the movie does get great performances from the always watchable Anna Kendrick, who's surprisingly at home in the rather unlikable role of Jenny, and Melanie Lynskey, who shines as her sister-in-law, Kelly—the movie's second, and perhaps more interesting, protagonist. There's also a funny subplot involving Jenny’s friend Carson, who’s played by Lena Dunham, and the creation of a Fifty Shades of Grey–type erotic novel (but with literary merit,) not to mention several adorable scenes with Swanberg’s own son, Jude, who doubles as his movie son too.

    Most notably, Happy Christmas serves as a reminder that the holidays can be a tough time in spite of—and sometimes because of—family. We’ve all been there, and that’s what makes the movie rewardingly cathartic.

    10) BoJack Horseman Christmas Special: “Sabrina's Christmas Wish” (2014)

    BoJack Horseman is probably the most cynical show on television, and the Christmas special doesn’t fail to live up to that.

    Sort of a show within a show, Sabrina’s Christmas Wish finds BoJack (Will Arnett)

    reminiscing, as he often does, over an old episode of his sitcom Horsin’ Around, accompanied by friend/roommate/freeloader Todd (Aaron Paul). The ensuing 25 minutes are a fun diversion from the larger arcs of the series, but in keeping with its deeply bittersweet (and occasionally just bitter) tone.

    The only one of Netflix’s originals to get its own Christmas special, BoJack fans will surely already be familiar with this one. For everyone else, it’s just another example of its greatness.

    11) A Very Murray Christmas (2015)

    Who cares if it is just a bunch of celebrity cameos? Everyone loves celebrities!

    And everyone loves Bill Murray. Which is why as confusing as this special may sound on paper, it actually makes perfect sense. Sofia Coppola directs Murray as a meta version of himself, and as promised, various celebrities show up to play themselves too, including George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, and Chris Rock. Michael Cera, Rashida Jones, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Jason Schwartzman, Jenny Lewis, and Paul Shaffer also star.

    The special is sort of a throwback to old school variety shows, mixed with the viral-ready presence of Murray and other buzzworthy famous people. And since it was shot by Sofia Coppola, it looks great. As Netflix’s first Christmas special not attached to one of its shows, A Very Murray Christmas isn’t exactly a landmark, but its mix of traditional television sensibilities and millennial tastes makes it a fun (if a bit odd) holiday treat.

    Screengrab via André Daylight/YouTube

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    This week, Netflix dropped the first trailer for Fuller House, its sequel series to the hit '90s sitcom Full House.You can hear the familiar voices of D.J., Danny, and Uncle Joey, but all we see is an empty living room and a puppy that mysteriously looks like the Tanners' dog Comet. 

    Which begs the question: What the heck has been going on in that house all this time?

    Screen Crush has a theory, and it's a spooky one, especially if you've seen the film It Follows

    Maybe think twice before you move into that house, D.J. 

    H/T Screen Crush | Screengrab via Screen Crush/YouTube

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    Former star of MTV's The Hills and current host of 1st Look Audrina Patridge made a big announcement via her Twitter Friday afternoon: She and fiancé Corey Bohan are expecting their first baby together. 

    The tweet includes a photo of a smiling Patridge holding up a positive pregnancy test, but more importantly, it includes the hashtags #clearblueconfirmed and #ad, revealing that pregnancy test company Clearblue paid her for the announcement. 

    Normally, celebs get a little backlash when they sneak something sponsored into their feeds, but in this case Patridge's fans seem so excited about the baby news they're willing to ignore the branded content. In a too-rare moment of social media generosity, her replies have been mostly positive: 

    Meanwhile, press genius and former Hills co-star Spencer Pratt didn't miss a beat and hopped on the positivity bandwagon with a tweet of his own:

    What a beautiful time to be alive and on Twitter. 

    Photo via Audrina Patridge/Twitter 

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    How much can guilt or innocence be shaped by outside forces? And just how many times can it happen to one man?

    In the wake of 2015's acclaimed true-crime bookends—HBO's The Jinx and podcast Serial—the genre is imminently binge-worthy and Netflix is making its case with Making a Murderer

    The 10-part series from filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, who spent the last decade working on it, begins when a Wisconsin man named Steven Avery is released from prison in 2003, after DNA evidence cleared him of a sexual assault charge stemming from a 1985 case. 

    After spending 18 years in jail, Avery becomes a figurehead for justice-system reform, but in the first episode, we're also shown the twisted family tree of Manitowoc County, where Avery's family roots run deep. Avery had previously spent time in jail for burglary and animal cruelty. 

    His cousin is married to the sheriff, and his uncle is a cop, too. Small-town politics appear to play a big part in Avery's arrest and eventual conviction for the 1985 rape of Penny Beerntsen, but Demos and Ricciardi zoom out and illustrate the larger miscommunications and apparent corruption among law enforcement, unraveling a more gnarled timeline. 

    The question subtly posed in the title: Is it possible to "make" Avery into a murderer? Much like The Jinx, which explores the bizarre life and crimes of Robert Durst, there's an unbelievable twist. 

    In 2005, a woman named Teresa Halbach goes missing in Manitowoc County, and once again Avery is a suspect. Interviews with family members, acquaintances, and lawyers, as well as archival testimony and recorded phone calls of Avery, piece together what appears to be a miscarriage of justice by law enforcement against an economically disadvantaged man. "Poor people lose all the time," Avery explains in one phone call to family after the 2005 accusation. 

    The filmmakers also pull at threads on Avery's side, but there are so many "Wait... what?" moments involving law enforcement and outside forces that it's hard to keep an unbiased sketch in focus, especially after witnessing the chilling interrogation of a 16-year-old boy in the case of Halbach. They create a feeling of unease that never quite lets up, amplified by the bleak socioeconomic conditions in which the Averys exist—a theme the filmmakers return to quite a few times. 

    As with Serial and The Jinx, these pieces of "entertainment" can have real-life consequences on subjects. Making a Murderer plays outs better if you don't get obsessive and Google details about the case, but it succeeds in putting you in that state of mind. 

    Photo via Netflix 

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    Most online video fans know Sara Maria Forsberg (aka SAARA or Smoukahontas) from her linguistic ramblings in the 2014 video “What Languages Sound Like To Foreigners.” The clip has pulled in over 15 million views to date on YouTube alone. But now Forsberg will be remembered for another notable achievement: developing a new alien language for the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

    Forsberg was approached by Lucasfilm a month after her languages video went viral. The 21-year-old Finnish YouTuber told Variety the offer didn’t seem real at first, until she received the paperwork and confidentiality agreement. That latter document is the reason no one’s known about Forsberg’s project until now. Since April 2014, the singer and YouTube star hasn’t been allowed to discuss her participation in the upcoming Star Wars film, a situation which she described as “horrible.”

    “It would have been nice when promoting your new career, to tell people, ‘Hey, I worked on the Star Wars movie,’ but I had to just humbly wait,” said Forsberg. “Now that I can talk about it, it feels amazing.”

    Working from a partial script, Forsberg got to work on creating the alien language to be spoken aloud in The Force Awakens. The Star Wars team asked Forsberg to listen to Euro-Asian languages, so the video creator brushed up on the sounds of Gujarati and Hindi. Forsberg, who’s fluent in English, Finnish, and Swedish, also said she went to YouTube to listen to languages she didn’t know.

    Since the singer didn’t want the alien language to “sound like complete nonsense,” Forsberg made sure to create words and a structure to make it seem real. After a month of work, the YouTuber sent the language’s audio files to the Star Wars dialect coaches, who then taught the actors how to pronounce Forsberg’s new tongue (which still doesn’t have an official name).

    Forsberg wasn’t able to visit The Force Awakens set, but she did attend the film’s official premiere on Dec. 14 in Hollywood. “I felt like I had finally accomplished something concrete, and to see my name in the credits was incredible,” explained Forsberg. “When the director [J.J. Abrams] thanked me on stage, it felt really good to be Sara Forsberg.”

    Forsberg is quite willing to work on any language needed for future Star Wars films, as well. “We’ve formed a relationship with Lucasfilm, and should there be more Star Wars films I would be thrilled to expand on this language,” the Finnish YouTuber said. “Maybe in the future I’ll be able to fine-tune it so it will even be teachable.”

    Screengrab via SAARA/YouTube 

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    Comedian James Adomian has surpassed Larry David as the best Bernie Sandersimpersonator, something that may have been conceded earlier had his Funny Or Die video—which premiered back in June—or his September @Midnight appearance been circulated with as much virality as his Trump vs. Bernie debate, performed alongside comedian Anthony Atamanuik’s pitch-perfect Donald Trump.

    Despite concessions from Salon and Huffington Post, Adomian’s impression is still less popular than David’s. It seems unlikely that Saturday Night Live will have Adomian play the senator on future episodes, but the effects of impersonations of political figures on SNL are measurable and not without consequence.

    Adomian is a master impersonator, but if you don’t follow the alternative comedy scene, you might not be too familiar. Perhaps the most mainstream coverage the comedian received was in 2010, when he was a top-ten finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. In 2012, he released his stand-up comedy album, Low Hangin Fruit. In 2014, he starred in David Cross’s directorial debut, Hits. He’s also been a frequent guest on the television series and podcast Comedy Bang! Bang!, as well as other podcasts where you can hear his impersonations of people like Jesse Ventura, Paul Giamatti, Gordon Ramsay, Gary Busey, Tim Gunn, Richard Branson, and even fellow comedians Marc Maron, Louis C.K., Todd Glass, and Andy Kindler. He’s also done esoteric impressions of people like Huell Howser, Dov Charney, Tom Leykis, and Slavoj Žižek. His perfectly executed George W. Bush impression is even better than Will Ferrell’s.

    Adomian is adept at capturing the essences of particular people, but nowhere has this been more apparent than in his impression of Sanders.

    “There’s a lot of really specific idiosyncrasies about Bernie Sanders, you know, everything from his voice to his mannerisms to his policy positions and vocal patterns and stuff, and the phrases he’ll use,” Adomian told the Daily Dot via phone. “I think there’s a lot of form-specific stuff about the real Bernie Sanders that I’m trying to pay close attention to and sort of make light of in a positive way.”

    While Adomian has mastered Sanders’s form—and yes, he purposely uses two disheveled wigs for most iterations—it’s the content and improvisational anecdotes that make Adomian’s Sanders shine. When asked about gun control during his recent Q&A show for Stand Up for Bernie, Adomian’s Sanders explains: 

    I believe that my position on guns is wrong. And I’ve always believed that. I don’t know why I’m stuck on this position, but here I am. I’m from a state where there’s moose. Sometimes, ya know, it’s not only hunting season, sometimes you gotta get the syrup out of a tree—BAM—you shoot it open. Look, I’m gonna drop it as soon as I can. That’s my position on guns—don’t worry, I’m coming around.

    On Harmontown back in May, he mentions that his diet consists solely of oatmeal or porridge, with raisins thrown in on special occasions. He then quips:  

    Look, a box of raisins in 1970 contained over 40 grapes that were shrunk down to an edible raisin size. Today, over 40 years later, that same box of raisins contains over 20 percent less grapes from farm to plate because of Monsanto and genetically modified organisms, which I will fight to stop in the impossible scenario where I occupy the White House for even two or three weeks before the Pentagon calls a coup d’etat because I am simply unacceptable to anyone with power to be in the Oval Office.

    These examples highlight the ways in which Adomian takes observations of Sanders—his conservative position on guns, his use of numbers to illustrate points, and his anti-establishment candidacy—and turns them into smart and subtly flattering comedy. Whereas David impersonates Sanders by basically being himself and reciting lines the SNL staff writes for him, Adomian builds on his perfected Sanders form by imparting a sustained and largely improvisational humor—his perspective melded with Sanders’s—throughout the impression. Adomian often embellishes parts of the senator that aren’t necessarily unflattering to begin with: his candidness, age, or the way he looks or sounds.

    “I think if those are the kinds of things you’re making fun of somebody for, they’re in pretty good shape,” Adomian said.

    It should come as no surprise that the comedian is a strong supporter of Sanders, not only as a politician but as a performer to crowds across the country. “Maybe the biggest audience I ever performed for was at a music festival... maybe 5,000 [people were there], and he speaks to crowds of 20-30,000 people,” Adomian said. “That’s not easy. ...It’s amazing, the idea that you could hit your stride at 74… with such energy that captivates the imagination of a lot of people in the country, in particular young people. ...[H]e’s honest and refreshing and he’s a dynamic personality. He’s fun to listen to and he’s compelling.”

    For Adomian, Sanders’s ability to communicate complex issues in an accessible way, issues that were off the table his entire life, is what largely drives him to support the senator. “Such a small group of people control half the wealth in the country and there’s something horribly wrong about that,” he said. “No one voted for that and he’s bringing it to the table as a political issue that should be debated and I absolutely support… and salute him for it.”

    Based on recent audience reactions to Adomian as Sanders, he thinks there may be an intersection between comedy and Sanders’s appeal. “I think generally... he’s the most popular candidate whenever I perform anywhere,” Adomian explained. In addition to touring the States with the impression, he also gets a warm reception from people in Canada and the United Kingdom. And when he’s done the Trump vs. Bernie shows, the audience consistently boos Trump and cheers for Sanders.

    “I don’t know if it’s because he’s popular with young people or people who follow comedy or people who go out and do stuff,” Adomian said, “but when I come out, there’s always an enthusiastic room to get to hear from even a fake Bernie Sanders.”

    It’s worth considering how an impression can affect the perception of a candidate. In the seventh season of 30 Rock, an episode influenced by Tina Fey’s impression of Sarah Palin and its reception features Tracy Morgan’s character impersonating an idiotic Republican candidate who happens to look exactly like him. This impression becomes a struggle for TGS (the show’s fictional SNL-like sketch series) because the real governor’s favorability increases alongside the airing of Jordan’s impression. 

    Indeed, the “Fey Effect” has been studied by researchers who concluded that her impression negatively influenced the perception of Palin, especially among Republicans. As Andrew O’Hehir writes, Fey and her writers “understood that it wasn’t necessary to exaggerate or ridicule anything about Palin, but only to distill her in purest form. That performance was not satire; it was adoration.”

    And while both Fey and Adomian lend a bit of exaggeration to their respective impressions, they embellish just enough to allow you to imagine the real figures speaking or explaining things in their particular way. If you’re paying enough attention to an impression, you can glean more truth about the figure being represented. For Palin, it’s her inanity and lack of experience; for Sanders, it’s his staunch anti-establishment views and unapologetic democratic socialism. At times, there can be more truth than flattery in imitation.

    This is what separates Adomian’s impression from David’s: the purity of the distillation. David’s SNL impression is a result of someone noticing David and Sanders have a similar voice while Adomian’s is the result of months of attention to details. David made a career out of transforming the mundane into comedic fodder, but he's not really an impersonator of anyone but himself. Adomian spent a lifetime studying people around him; he recognizes how others perceive/are perceived and plays to an audience’s knowledge and preconceived notions.

    While it’s impossible to gauge how an impression affects Sanders's popularity at this point, if an impersonator is going to shift the perception of a candidate, shouldn’t the most widely known impression be the one that distills the candidate most purely and therefore most humorously? If an impression can affect a candidate’s perception as the Fey Effect authors purport, why shouldn’t that impression be the best one our comedians can offer?

    Although Adomian's impression receives less coverage than mainstream comedians, “The Bernie Sanders of Bernie Sanders impersonators” is a role the comedian would surely relish. 

    “I think he should have me join him for campaign events,” Adomian said when asked what the senator needs to work on. “I think his campaign should realize how many comedians love him and do more comedy fundraiser events.”

    Screengrab via Funny Or Die/YouTube | Remix by Max Fleishman

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