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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Nestled among the bed-bug-infested couches for sale and the raunchy casual-encounter offers on Craigslist on Friday was a short, easy-to-miss job listing.

    Kanye West is hiring audience members for the New York City release party for his album Waves.

    The ad calls for 1,200 paid extras to attend the Feb. 11 release of Waves (previously titled Swish), which includes the fashion show for his latest line Yeezy Season 3, at Madison Square Garden. For the privilege of hearing the new album before the rest of the world, those chosen to participate will be paid $72 cash, plus another $130 for attending two rehearsals.

    Free meals, makeup, and wardrobe are also included. The way the production company describes it, the eight-hour concert shift doesn't sound so bad: "[Extras] will stand comfortably throughout the set and receive direction on their performance gestures."

    Tickets for the show were sold out within 10 minutes. West tweeted about the ticket stampede on Thursday, adding that he may have a few special tickets on reserve.

    A superstar album-release party invite doesn't show up on Craigslist every day. And according to Fashionista, even the Yeezy model casting was unusually low-key: models who arrived at the open call reported being seen within as little as 30 minutes, a rapid pace compared to what are often day-long casting sessions for major fashion shows. 

    West has been teasing Waves on Twitter for the past month, showing off setlists and scribbles and making bombastic brags.

    The album is sure to impress, but it's the fashion show that may have everyone talking next week. If the crowdsourced Madison Square Garden show is anything like West's past collections—in which he partnered with artist Vanessa Beecroft on stark militaristic tableaus—it should be a work of performance art for the ages.

    Photo via Pieter-Jannick Dijkstra/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    The Zola saga is getting the film adaptation that social media demanded.

    But the good news doesn't stop there. It was announced Thursday that stoner-comedy czar James Franco has been signed on to direct. The movie will be called Zola Tells All, and is based off the hugely-popular 148-tweet saga stripper Azia “Zola” Wells shared in late 2015 .

    Like the tweets, the movie will chronicle the crazy weekend Zola spent in Florida with her new friend Jessica, Jessica's boyfriend Jarret, and Jessica's pimp "Z." 

    Zola won't be Franco's first foray into directing, either: His IMDB page lists 33 directing credits since 2005, which isn't too shabby for a guy who's notoriously busy with other projects.

    No timeline or casting information has been released yet, but it's safe to assume this movie will be big. 

    H/T Variety | Screengrab via James Franco/Instagram

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    When Amy Trask used to see a TV cameraman headed her way, she quickly would change direction and walk somewhere else. She'd juke and jive, cut this way and that. She did not want to appear on the camera, and she'd do everything she could to avoid it. 

    It'd been that way ever since she was a child. Look through her family's photo albums, and you'd notice a distinct lack of Amy. Her biggest fear, Trask says now, was being caught inside a camera's viewfinder—stuck in the spotlight—and having all the eyes and ears trained on her.

    In fact, at the headquarters of the Oakland Raiders, where Trask was the team CEO for 16 years under owner Al Davis, who had a predilection for drafting a multitude of speedy wide receivers that would never amount to anything, the running joke went something like this:

    "When I saw a television camera coming toward me," Trask said, "they would tell me that I ran so fast the other way that Al Davis would have signed me to a contract."

    It wasn't that Trask hated the media or the reporters who worked in the field. It was that, in her position, she had to carefully think about every word she spoke, because, aside from her disdain of the spotlight, she was representing herself, her team, boss, and league when she gave an interview.

    They used to lurk behind the scenes and away from the cameras. Now, they fill your timelines with insights and opinions. 

    "After almost 30 years with the team, I watched every single word coming out of my mouth," Trask told the Daily Dot. "I was very measured."

    This week, though, Trask is in Santa Clara, California, for Super Bowl 50, working with CBS as one of its football analysts and engaging in her newest love—growing and maintaining what she calls her Twitter village. She's open and honest and funny on social media, and she's one of a number of former league executives and general managers who have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts and ideas on the game. 

    They used to lurk behind the scenes and away from the cameras. Now, they fill your timelines with insights and opinions.

    Along with Trask, others like Ted Sundquist (the former Broncos general manager from 2002-08) and Andrew Brandt (who was a former player-agent and the Packers vice president from 1999-2008) have made their Twitter presences felt. And it's allowed fans to get to know them better while learning more about the game they love.

    "What I try to be right now is someone who can lend insight and information and perspective, having been on both sides of the ball—the players' side as an agent and on the team side," Brandt said on a 2014 edition of the Digital and Social Media Sports podcast. "My life now is [using] my knowledge and insight in a way that more people can understand things."

    Sundquist was encouraged to log onto Twitter when he was the director of player personnel with the Omaha Nighthawks in the now-defunct United Football League. He admits he had no idea what to do or what to expect, but soon after, he realized the positives.

    "Through some trial and error, [I had] a better understanding of how it can be used to market and promote various things I was engaged with; I became much more involved with folks out there wanting my viewpoint on things," Sundquist wrote in an email to the Daily Dot. "...Being involved with media through radio, TV, and writing, it gives me an opportunity to hear what fans think and receive feedback on the points I'm trying to get across."

    For obvious reasons, Trask couldn't—and wouldn't—have shared herself on Twitter if she was still employed by the Raiders, where she started in 1987. She remained there, running the team and sprinting away from reporters, until Davis died in 2011. Nineteen months later, she resigned without knowing her next step. But she knew one thing—social media was out. Even after she was hired by CBS Sports to work as a TV analyst, she hated the idea of signing up for Twitter.

    "It was absolutely, positively that I was never going to tweet," Trask said. "My aversion to it was my background. When you are a businessperson, it's very rare when you see someone like Jim Irsay [the owner of the Colts who's a strong NFL tweeter). It's not part of the business world. I swore I would never do it. I held it in disdain."

    Until one day, seemingly out of the blue, she simply changed her mind. Trask told her husband, and he had one simple question: "Who are you and what have you done with my wife?" Occasionally, after she began tweeting, he'd walk through the room, see her tweeting, catch her eye, and sadly shake his head in mock contempt.

    But her humor and enthusiasm quickly translated to social media, and with her entry onto Twitter, she immediately rehashed the famous Tuck Rule game from 2001 when the Patriots beat the Raiders in the playoffs after a late-game fumble from New England quarterback Tom Brady was overruled because of an arcane rule.

    And Trask hadn't forgotten it.

    But settling old scores isn't why Trask signed up for her account, and though she had no clue she would eventually feel this way, she now sees Twitter as a net positive for humanity.

    "I refer to my Twitter group as my Twitter village," Trask said. "I love my Twitter village. I talk all the time on Twitter about disagreeing and the ability to listen to those with opposing views, and that when we disagree, we should do so agreeably. My Twitter village has embraced that. I'm not getting that [usual vile Twitter] reaction. I like to think it's because we're cultivating that in my Twitter village."

    Sundquist seems more interested in talking football and about his experiences inside the game, and he's become even more transparent about how and why he's still searching for a GM job. That thought process—and the fact that neither he nor Trask has had to deal with much Twitter negativity—has led Sundquist to the belief that modern GMs could and should use the medium to make themselves and their day-to-day decisions more opaque.

    "I highly encourage that they do," Sundquist wrote. "I think many times guys and gals currently in the League get all wrapped up in their own world and start treating professional football like it's National Security. I can assure you that it's not. Sure there's a lot at stake in the business (usually money and job security at the personal level), but the general feeling, whether real or perceived, that the fans are a bother, shouldn't be an impediment to reaching out. In fact the medium makes it easier to do just that. 

    "I'd encourage current presidents and GMs to let their fans know what you were thinking, the amount of effort that was put in to make the decision, the pros and cons of the situation/scenario, and how you think it will benefit your team and organization in the long run. There are a lot words that can be used to communicate without 'giving away the launch codes,' if you get what I mean."

    Fans, of course, are interested, and on some level, they probably deserve the right to know a little more than they do. They are the ones, after all, who pay the high costs of personal seat licenses, tickets, merchandise, parking, and concessions when they support a team.

    For now, fans don't get much access to a team's thought process directly from the GM's mouth, but people like Trask, Sundquist, and Brandt have given them a better idea about what happens when the cameras are off.

    "There just seems to be an appetite [for the fans to learn about] the business of sports and the law of sports and for deeper issues," Brandt said. "I try to take people behind that curtain."

    Photo via Kevin/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) 


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    Babysitting may be a part-time gig for young artists and college students, but it’s a full-time opportunity to impart wisdom on young minds. So why not turn playtime into a seminar in feminism?

    That’s the premise behind a hilarious new webseries from comedy duo Ginny Leise and Soojeong Son.

    In Feminist Babysitter, Leise plays the titular caregiver who can’t let a minute go by without a nod to the patriarchy. Never mind that the child she’s caring for can barely speak.

    Son’s 2-year-old niece, Ahri Son, plays the adorably attentive but baffled toddler. Her deadpan reactions are the perfect counterpoint to Leise’s enthusiastic ranting. While leafing through a magazine that fails to feature Asian actresses, Leise exclaims, “We should burn this—and start a ‘zine!” Son gives her an adorable dazed look.

    Leise, who's a real-life nanny and babysitter, says the inspiration for the series came from a genuine desire to start a dialogue.

    “I’ve found myself increasingly in conversations where I just want to speak to [the kids I work with] all about feminism," she told the Daily Dot. "I have this real feeling like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is my opportunity to impart some wisdom on children.’”

    But Leise and Son aren’t taking aim at feminism. They have true respect for the cause. If anything, Leise is having a laugh at her own emotional urges. 

    “For me, the humor isn’t making fun of feminism or feminist causes," she explained. "We’re poking fun at the earnestness and the urgency [of] this character [who] thinks every moment is an opportunity and she’s not going to let a single one go by without saying something… I’m just [playing] this ridiculous heightened character who’s very close to my heart.”

    The three-part series is full of funny and tender moments, from challenging Son to recognize the importance of intersectionality to coaxing her into saying the word "vagina." One watch and you'll be ready to burn your diapers and start a revolution.

    Screengrab via SJ&GINNY COMEDY/YouTube


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    Latino representation at the polls could see record highs in November. Mitú, a digital studio and network that reaches 171 million viewers, claims it is the top network for the global Latino community. And this political season, Mitú will look to showcase its influence among the Latino community in the United States to activate Latino-Americans to vote with its#WeAreAmerica campaign, which kicks off with the release of an app that is intended to enable voter registration.

    To further achieve its mission of activating Latino-American voters, Mitú has teamed up with the National Council of La Raza, a U.S. Hispanic civil rights organization. 

    Together, the two organizations will educate their respective communities on the voter process and look to empower the Latino community to share and engage in the dialogue leading up to the 2016 elections.

    “As the leading digital media company for Latinos, we have a responsibility and a commitment to provide a platform for this generation’s voice to be heard,” said Beatriz Acevedo, president and co-founder of Mitú, in statement. “This is why we launched Mitú’s #WeAreAMERICA, a campaign designed ​to inspire young Latinos to vote and highlight the numerous contributions we make to this country. We are very excited to partner with NCLR to launch this app to support our efforts in empowering our community.”

    Photo via Francesco Crippa/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Drake is the most popular rapper on the planet. But it’s actually the Atlanta native Future who is the best rapper working, a fact Drake basically attested to by tying his wagon to Future’s less spotlight-obsessed star on last year’s collaboration What a Time to Be Alive.

    Future has been on an extended run since late 2014, where he released five proper projects in a year, all of which were well received by both critics and fans. He continued that streak into 2016 upon releasing the free online mixtape Purple Reign just three weeks into the new year. 

    And just to outdo himself, it wasn’t a day into the second month of 2016 that yet another Future project was announced.

    EVOL is Future’s fourth studio album, and much like how Drake fans might be forgiven for not knowing who Future is, it would be understandable for casual Future fans to not even be aware of this album. After all, it was less than a week ago that hip-hop life coach and Snapchat sage DJ Khaledrevealed the album’s existence. And, true to his word, Khaled premiered the 11 songs on his inaugural Beats 1 show late Friday.

    As expected, Future in the studio with DJ Khaled to premiere the former’s new album on the latter’s first Internet radio show immediately drove a ton of interest on social media. 

    Not only did #EVOL trend on Twitter yesterday thanks to a combination of #FutureHive hyperbole and jokes about his public relationship situations, people also filled his ex-wife Ciara’s Instagram comment section with emojis meant to represent the album. Apparently that is just a normal, disrespectfully petty thing that fans on Instagram do now.

    During the interview portion of the radio show, Future’s laid-back slurring didn’t get many words in between Khaled’s exultations of “special cloth alert!” and other positive affirmations, but the street auteur did speak a bit about the title of the project. Future mentioned that “EVOL” is, in fact, “love” backward (while pronouncing it like “evil”), and he also emphasized that it is short for “evolving.” It is unclear, exactly, how Future is evolving. The content on EVOL is mostly raps about money, sex, drugs, and guns—things he’s rapped about since he emerged as a solo artist five years ago.

    But the beats on the album are out of this world. Future has always fancied himself an astronaut, but some of this production from longtime collaborators Metro Boomin and Southside has its own dark matter gravitational pull. And while the subject matter of the raps can be either clichéd tropes or the embodiment of Americana depending on perspective, Future is obviously at the top of his game.

    It’s not that Future makes being a drug addict or even a drug dealer seem especially fun, he's just vivid as hell whether using emotional depth or stark turns of phrase, like “pissing out the codeine from the night before” on “Lil Haiti Baby.” As far as profundity, it’s mixed right in with all the emotional shallowness—you need to stream closely. On that same song’s chorus, he puts in contrast youth and violence, which could even be read as autobiographical: “Oh he popping wheelies a lil’ Haiti baby… Shot the whole window up in broad day/Oh that’s that lil’ Haiti baby.” Later, on “Lie to Me,” he tries to make sense of his significant other's lies and his family's willingness to tell lies for him.

    EVOL only has one feature, the parodic “Low Life” with Toronto scumbag crooner The Weeknd. With talk of getting kicked out of the Ritz Carlton four or six times, everybody getting high, and Future getting caught cheating but refusing to apologize, the two take their scrubby personas to a comedic extreme. They even brag about ashing on the floor and doing drugs “with your daughter.”

    The album is coherent and firmly in step with Future’s recent output. Even though my first impression would put it toward the wacker end of Future releases, it will no doubt be included in the now seven-record-long streak that has cemented his status as more than just a hook man or niche artist. However, that run of music has yielded somewhat little by way of traditional metrics. During that time, the only Future album to go gold was the collaborative mixtape with Drake, and the only Future singles to go platinum were the two with Drake on them.

    There may not be such a thing as a popular rapper besides Drake anymore. Even Kanye West’s upcoming seventh album will assuredly take a dip in sales from 2013's Yeezus, already his worst-selling solo album. Nicki Minaj couldn’t get her last album platinum, even after nearly half the tracklist was released to the radio. Kendrick Lamar, on the other hand, is in a class all his own, an exception that proves the rule. Future is clearly below them on the food chain, and the release of EVOL seems to be an acknowledgement of that.

    Future’s first three studio albums were full of runaway singles, then a weak attempt at radio hits, and then quiet street singles. There doesn’t seem to be any singles on EVOL. The fact that it was announced just before its release and then premiered on a never-before-heard Internet radio show only available to subscribers of Apple Music does change the dynamic and expectations. This is a lot closer to an independent rapper deciding to put out his mixtapes for pay than it is a major-label star offering up a surprise album. Future is a big-league pop star though, and free mixtapes don’t buy shoes.

    Photo via WayneWinnin/Twitter


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    While we all wait for Showtime's Twin Peaks revival, Netflix is hoping it can keep David Lynch fans entertained. 

    On March 18, Netflix will debut My Beautiful Broken Brain, a documentary executive produced by Lynch. It follows Lotje's Sodderland journey after experiencing a traumatic stroke in 2011 and having to learn to do things like write again. In her recovery, she explains she often saw bright flashes of color, and felt as if she was in a David Lynch movie. So she reached out to him. 

    "The brain is truly fascinating and much in the way that our brains are able to achieve total coherence—finding enlightenment and fulfillment—you will surely be moved and inspired by this journey of self-rediscovery," Lynch said in a statement. 

    Alex Gibney's doc Cooked will also debut on Netflix this year, as the streaming site attempts to build out its documentary genre and ride the momentum of Making a Murderer

    Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube 


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    The queen is back.

    Beyoncé lives for surprises, and fans live for her surprises. The singer dropped a video for her new single "Formation" on Saturday afternoon, one day before performing with Coldplay during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. 

    As always, Bey looks stunning in the video. Whether she's getting down in a fabulously decorated hallway or chilling on top of a cop car submerged in water, it's all flawless. 

    "Formation" is her first song in over a year, and it's available to stream and download exclusively through Tidal. Bey also staged an Instagram takeover with stills from the music video.

    Beyoncé's daughter Blue Ivy makes an adorable cameo in the music video.

    On a more serious note, the video has a salient message regarding police violence against the Black community, as pointed out by Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty). 

    Who needs football this weekend when we have Beyoncé?

    Screengrab via Beyoncé/YouTube


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    For anyone with two left feet, YouTube dance tutorials are essential to mastering the hottest moves. While there are many options for all sorts of dance styles, we’ve gathered five tutorials that teach you some of the most popular choreography, from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to Beyoncé’s iconic “Single Ladies” hand wave.

    With this arsenal of the best YouTube dance tutorials, you’ll be the life of any party.

    1) "Bye Bye Bye"

    NSYNC’s classic breakout hit “Bye Bye Bye” seems simple, but it’s more than just waving your hand and hopping. Anyone can mimic the moves, but to get them down correctly the essential lesson comes from Darrin’s Dance Grooves, an aughts DVD that taught superfans how to be their best Justin, JC, or, if they couldn’t cut it, Lance. Thanks to the Internet, this educational gem has been preserved for future generations. As Darrin points out, there’s a military vibe and a certain level of precision you need to master to be the perfect boy band.

    2) “Single Ladies”

    For the lazy dancers, all you need to do is wave your hand around and point at your ring finger to move to this track, but that neglects so much about Beyoncé’s 2008 hit, “Single Ladies.” Before you throw a ring on it, you have to clap, drop, and smack the behind. YouTube dancer Andrea Wilson takes you through all the basics to be the best Beyoncé—or Beyoncé backup dancer—you can be.

    3) “Thriller”

    There’s more to this dance than just swinging your arms side to side. Everyone’s got a subpar Michael Jackson impersonation in their pocket, but mastering the “Thriller” moves with the help of a dance tutorial will elevate your game. For this one, a huge percentage of the presentation is attitude. If your audience doesn’t believe you’re undead, you’re not selling it.

    4) “Rhythm Nation”

    This is for the ambitious dance student. Mastering Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” moves will surely impress at a party, although it’ll be even better if you get a group together and bust out the routine. Precision is key, and an all-black outfit won’t hurt. You’re also going to need to dedicate some solid time to learning: YouTuber BayArea Flashmob has split his tutorial into four parts. No one said dance tutorials were going to be quick.

    5) “Bad Romance”

    Monsters, get your claws ready. There’s a lot to live up to with Lady Gaga’s dramatic performances, but thanks to this dance tutorial you can stage your own version of “Bad Romance” as you see fit. Danceislife9 puts viewers through the paces, from the hands-forward butt-shake move to the twisting monster claws. She even goes into the attitude required to master Gaga’s “Walk, walk, fashion baby” moments. A few times through this dance tutorial and you’ll be ready to throw on your very own meat dress.

    Screengrabs via YouTube | Remix by Max Fleishman


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    With Larry David hosting SNL last night, there was no avoiding a Bernie Sanders sketch. Technically, we got two.

    David brought out his Sanders impression for a Curb Your Enthusiasm mashup, envisioning the Iowa Caucus campaign as an episode of the show. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to see Larry David run for office, your very awkward comedy dreams just came true. 

    The real Sanders also appeared on the show, although unlike Hillary Clinton, he didn't share the stage with his own double. Instead, he joined Larry David and the SNL cast for a rather on-the-nose sketch about passengers fleeing from a sinking ship.

    David objected to the "women and children first" rule, while Sanders parodied his own stump speech by complaining about "the one percent getting this preferential treatment."

    "Sounds like socialism to me," said David.

    Screengrab via Saturday Night Live/YouTube


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    In one scene in episode 2 of Louis C.K.'s new webseriesHorace and Pete, a suitor tries to get Marsha (played by Jessica Lange) to leave the bar with him. She declines, suggesting they just stay there and drink. Can Marsha or any of the other patrons leave this Brooklyn bar? Are they real? Are they... trapped?

    Horace and Pete brings up a lot of questions. C.K. dropped the new series on fans last weekend without much fanfare, pushing the episode for just $5. In a message to fans last week, in regards to the surprise debut, he explained: 

    Part of the idea behind launching it on the site was to create a show in a new way and to provide it to you directly and immediately, without the usual promotion, banner ads, billboards and clips that tell you what the show feels and looks like before you get to see it for yourself. As a writer, there’s always a weird feeing that as you unfold the story and reveal the characters and the tone, you always know that the audience will never get the benefit of seeing it the way you wrote it because they always know so much before they watch it. And as a TV watcher I’m always delighted when I can see a thing without knowing anything about it because of the promotion. So making this show and just posting it out of the blue gave me the rare opportunity to give you that experience of discovery.

    C.K. funded, directed, wrote, produced, and is now distributing the multi-camera series. The episodes are being created in real time, apparently on a weekly basis, and touch on very topical issues like Donald Trump. "Basically this is a hand-made, one guy paid for it version of a thing that is usually made by a giant corporation," C.K. said. 

    So asking $5 is not so much while attempting to build a new model, one C.K. has already tested out. In 2012, he releasedTig Notaro's now-legendary Largo set exclusively through his website, and he sells tickets to his standup shows there as well, in order to circumvent exorbitant fees and scalping. C.K. discounted the second episode of Horace and Pete for fans on Saturday, lowering the price to just $2. He says the rest of the episodes will cost $3 each. It's all an experiment. 

    And so is Horace and Pete. Episode 2 is bookended by a sexual fantasy storyline involving Lange's character, which allows for much dialogue about boners and love. In this way, Horace and Pete is not much different than Louie; in both, C.K. is getting out his neuroses and insecurities. "I'm just trying to sleep more and wrap it up," Horace tells his brother Pete (played by Steve Buscemi) early on. 

    Are Buscemi and C.K. True Detective season 3 material? Not quite. Seeing the two of them trade lines is exciting at first, but there is a dynamism missing from much of the structure and dialogue. C.K. has surrounded himself with top-notch actors (Edie Falco, Alan Alda), which allows him to continue doing the "Wait...what?" face and put-upon white guy bit. But, at least in the first two episodes, there are long pauses. Stilted conversations. It's not a comfortable watch. 

    And perhaps that's C.K.'s intent: This isn't a show that would air on Fox or maybe even NetflixHorace and Pete is set up like a stage play, complete with an intermission, picking at the threads of TV's format. That he's delivering this show weekly further plays with traditional (and streaming) TV's pacing, sans all the promo drilled into viewers' heads. 

    In an email to fans about episode 2, C.K. addressed what Horace and Pete is not: 

    Warning: this show is not a "comedy". I dunno what it is. It can be funny. And also not. Both. I believe that "funny" works best in its natural habitat. Right in the jungle along with "awful", "sad", "confusing" and "nothing".

    C.K. has reached a level of fame where he can do things like this, and turn television viewing to the stage. He's hoping we keep asking questions. 

    Screengrab via louisck.net  


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    OK, sure, Coldplay was pretty bad.

    At the Super Bowl halftime show, Chris Martin's opening coos from 16-year-old smash single "Yellow" presented a punchless band here to play atmospheric curator for pop titans Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. The band begun in earnest with 2008's "Viva La Vida," a U2-inspired arena ballad with a gooey center but the kind of payoff that needs fireworks to lift. 

    Good thing they brought colorful violins, adorable children, psychedelic pomp, and almost enough "whoa" chants for stadium catharsis. A yellow-outfitted marching band twisted. Then about 30 seconds each from singles "Paradise" and "Adventure of a Lifetime." 

    If you were on drugs and at Coachella, you'd almost be inspired. 


    From there, pop lothario Bruno Mars turned out "Uptown Funk," the 2015 smash hit built for earbud-fueled Gold's Gym sessions. Dressed in gold chains and black Nikes, he was the young and hip portion of the show. 

    And then Beyoncé incinerated Levi's Stadium with scorching choreography and New Orleans-inspired brass. She was a late addition to the bill—surely here in part to promo new single "Formation" and immediately announce a tour—but she dusted off the previous herbs and showed why she runs the world.

    But all zany cram sessions from unrelated acts require a Glee-level mashup finale. Mars and Bey danced off. Snippets from "Crazy In Love" were piped in. Martin slid back into the fold to assist on "Uptown Funk" like a hip dad singing along in the Honda Odyssey. 

    Since this is Super Bowl 50, Coldplay's vague "Fix You" served as montage music. But about the only thing that the forced nostalgia inspired were millions of American restroom breaks.

    Update 7:25am CT, Feb. 8: Beyoncé's announcement of the Formation World Tour crashed her website as fans scrambled to find out which cities she's visiting.

    Tickets go on sale Feb. 16, but the pre-sale begins Feb. 9, and now you know where your Super Bowl pool winnings are going.

    Screengrab via CBS.com


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    If you like the Super Bowl to bookend your porn habits, Sunday must have been a wondrous day.

    With Coldplay announced as the halftime show for Super Bowl 50, porn hub Brazzers decided that it could add more value than the much-maligned rock group to those who were looking to be entertained during the Broncos-Panthers intermission.

    So, the online porn company livestreamed its own halftime show that featured, um, its own adventure of a lifetime.

    As Brazzers pointed out in its pregame press release, the last time an adult content company had attempted a livestream was Girls Gone Wild in 2005. But as Chris Martin was rocking out with Beyoncé and Bruno Mars in front of tens of thousands of football fans at Levi's Stadium, this was happening on Brazzers in a free show called ZZ Halftime.

    Said Brazzers product director Mario Nardstein in a statement: "The ZZ Halftime show is a fan-based initiative to thank both NFL and loyal Brazzers fans with free content during the Super Bowl. So, if you can’t score with Coldplay, at least you can score with Brazzers.”

    Almost as soon as halftime began and the Brazzers show went live, there were couples—men and women, and women and women, and women and women with men—engaging in oral sex and hardcore intercourse, as the host of the show sought commentary from the topless porn stars who were watching nearby.

    But the halftime show really picked up steam when the hostess began interviewing the porn stars while they were having sex while giving shoutouts to Twitter users who requested the stars to scream their names while in the throes of faux-ecstasy.  

    "This is fantastic," one of the male stars said.

    But if we're talking about the level of noise between the Brazzers porn set and Coldplay's music, the former was probably more headache-inducing than the latter. Given the choice next year between Brazzers and whatever the NFL serves to us us, perhaps I'll go with something simple: watch the replay of the Puppy Bowl.

    Photo via Brazzers | Remix by Jason Reed


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    Entering Super Bowl 50, most likely the last game of Peyton Manning's career, the conventional wisdom stated that the Broncos defense would have to be the ones to lead Denver to the victory. Manning, in his 18th season, had lost too much arm strength and no longer had the essence that made him one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

    All of that was true Sunday vs. the Panthers. Manning was mostly mediocre or worse, and for a guy who will be a surefire Hall of Famer the moment he's eligible, the 39-year-old showed why he's no longer a consistently effective starting quarterback.

    But there's something to be said for experience. Manning has 28 playoff games of it, including three previous Super Bowl appearances. Cam Newton had no Super Bowl experience. And unlike Manning, Newton didn't get much help from most of his teammates. Thus, in Denver's 24-10 victory, it was Manning, the game manager who happens to have a dominant defense, vs. Newton, who tried to do too much in lieu of too little support.

    Manning is the winner, and now he can ride off into retirement, secure in his place in the game's history. He told CBS' Tracy Wolfson after the game that "I'll take some time to reflect" on his future, but it seems highly unlikely that he'll return for the 2016 season.

    Yet, as great as Manning's career has been, his performance was mostly incidental to the outcome of the Super Bowl. The way we realized the Broncos coaches felt the same way? When, on a third-and-nine with less than six minutes to play and only a six-point lead, Denver's offense basically conceded the ball, handing it to back C.J. Anderson and looking to run more time off the clock rather than take a chance and go for the first down.

    Denver was going to let its defense—and not Manning—win the Super Bowl.

    And you know what? It worked, thanks in large part to linebacker Von Miller.

    Even worse for Newton? For as hard as he tried this game and for how well he played this season—he was the league's MVP, after all—he's going to be remembered for not trying to dive on the fumble and keep possession for his team.

    Alas, the only one dabbing on Sunday was Betty White.

    Though the Panthers were a six-point favorite heading into the game, Denver made the first big play of the night, while also seeking to shake Newton's confidence. After an exciting opening drive sputtered out and ended with a Broncos field goal, Denver's defense injected some excitement in the matchup when Miller stripped the ball from Newton midway through the first quarter, leading to a fumble recovery in the end zone from the Broncos and a 10-0 lead.

    Newton's reaction at the moment was reminiscent of some of the most classic of cartoons.

    The Broncos defense was tough all game, sacking Newton seven times (Miller had 2.5 sacks by himself) and hitting him hard on many other occasions. While Newton has relied on tight end Greg Olsen this season—mostly because the Panthers receiving corps isn't one of the team's strengths—Denver kept him irrelevant for much of the game. 

    Meanwhile, Newton had to make plays with his arms and his feet, and he simply didn't have enough to win the game himself.

    But in the second quarter, Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart—who had sat out a few minutes earlier in the half with a foot injury and who was questionable to return at the time—made a superhero-like jump to get Carolina its first score of the contest.

    Aside from that, the Panthers' offense struggled, and though the Broncos offense wasn't much better, Denver got help from its special teams—Jordan Norwood's 61-yard punt return was the longest in Super Bowl history, punter Britton Colquitt averaged 45.9 yards per kick and constantly changed field position, and kicker Brandon McManus nailed all three of his field goal attempts.

    Manning finished 13 of 23 for 141 yards and an interception. Those numbers are pedestrian and not worthy of the player Manning used to be. But he's got his second Super Bowl title, and he's thankful.

    "It's very special," Manning said in the immediate moments after the game. "This game was much like this season has been. It's tested our toughness, our resilience, our unselfishness. I just feel very, very grateful."

    He should. That Broncos defense—and Miller—were simply remarkable and won him another title.

    Photo via Jim G/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed  


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    It’s one of the risks inherent with streaming entertainment: You’ll be deep into binge-watching through your latest TV obsession, then bam! Suddenly the show gets yanked out of the catalog with little or no warning. That’s exactly what happened this past week with the disappearance of Doctor Who, long a staple of Netflix Instant, amid rumors of a new BBC streaming service in the works.

    Unfortunately, the dematerialization of Who came with very little warning, leaving folks such as my wife—who I’d gotten hardcore hooked on the show over the last month or so—stranded midway through the Doctor’s adventures. While there’s no immediate streaming solution on the horizon, there are alternatives if you don’t want to have to drop a bunch of cash to buy or rent the episodes you haven’t seen yet. While you’re waiting to see where the TARDIS will land next, we’ve compiled a list of several shows that should help ease your pain in a Doctorless world. Just watch ’em fast, because you never know when they might be gone too.

    If you enjoy the Doctor’s multiple incarnations, try… Orphan Black

    One of the biggest reasons Doctor Who has managed such longevity is thanks to the narrative construct of “regeneration.” When mortally wounded, the Doctor can shift into a new body. It’s still the same man, but with a new face, and with different elements of his personality coming to the forefront. From a real-world standpoint, it’s the same appeal as watching James Bond or Batman or other iconic roles evolve over the years, watching different actors give the same character their own unique flavor. In BBC America’s addictive clone drama Orphan Black, you get that without having to wait years between recastings, and all on the shoulders of one remarkable talent: actress Tatiana Maslany.

    Maslany’s Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama series last year was long overdue, because she’s been killing it on this show since 2013. She initially plays Sarah Manning, whose life is thrown into turmoil after watching a woman who looks just like her commit suicide. She soon discovers that both she and the dead woman are clones… and they aren’t the only ones. Over the course of the show, Maslany plays a dozen different clones as the show’s tangled mythology unspools, giving each her own distinct personality and mannerisms, often playing entire scenes against different versions of herself. It’s a master class in acting, and it’ll be great fun for any Who fans who always look forward to seeing what the next Doctor will have to offer.

    The first two seasons of Orphan Black are available for streaming on Amazon Prime. The show will return for a fourth season on BBC America this April.

    If you enjoy Who’s wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff, try… Continuum

    Traveling through time can get complicated, especially without any Gallifreyan bureaucracy to keep the paradoxes from cluttering up the time-space continuum. And speaking of continuums, the convolutions and dangers inherent in time travel are at the core of the Canadian sci-fi drama Continuum. Rachel Nichols stars as Kiera Cameron, a cop from a dystopian, corporate-controlled 2077 Vancouver. Through a series of unfortunate events, she winds up thrown into the past—of 2012—in pursuit of several escaped prisoners who are either terrorists or freedom fighters, depending on your point of view. Trapped in our own present recent past, Kiera poses as a modern cop, trying to track down the fugitives and find a way back to her home era with the help of a young computer genius destined for mighty things.

    After an interesting setup, Continuum’s first season soon lost my interest, hewing a bit too predictably to standard “sci-fi procedural” templates. Thankfully, others I trust stuck with it after I bailed, and their continued insistence finally forced me to give the show another chance. What I found was a show that delved into the nature and implications of time travel in all sorts of fascinating ways, from alternate timelines to causality loops and chicken-egg paradoxes. You may need a flowchart to keep up, but that’s half the fun.

    All four seasons of Continuum are available for streaming on Netflix Instant.

    If you love the Doctor being the smartest guy in the room, try… Sherlock

    Part of the fun of Doctor Who is watching the Doctor continually outsmart and outmaneuver his many, many enemies. In a pop-culture landscape where victory is often achieved through violence, the Doctor gets out of nearly every conundrum through the judicious application of his mind. Sherlock Holmes is an obvious inspiration for many aspects of the Doctor, so it’s unsurprising that current Who showrunner Steven Moffat’s other most noteworthy pop-culture contribution—co-created with fellow Who writer Mark Gatiss—is a modern spin on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary consulting detective.

    Benedict Cumberbatch plays the brusque but brilliant Holmes opposite Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) as Dr. John Watson. As in most incarnations of Doyle’s stories, the interplay between Holmes and Watson is as much an attraction as the actual mysteries, but it’s also fascinating watching Holmes operate in a modern landscape populated by things like smartphones and DNA evidence. Not to be confused with the suspiciously-similar-in-concept-and-timing American series Elementary, Sherlock is full of cracking good dialogue and clever twists, and since each season is structured as three episodes running around an hour and a half each, it’s perfectly suited for treating it like a miniseries and burning through it over the course of a week or so.

    The first three seasons of Sherlock are available for streaming on Netflix Instant. The recently aired holiday special Sherlock Holmes: The Abominable Bride hasn’t made the leap to Netflix yet, but you can purchase or rent it on Amazon.

    If you want a universe as wild and wonderful and crazy and as Who’s, try… Farscape

    The Who-niverse has given us a magic box that’s bigger on the inside and murderous stone angels who only move when you aren’t looking at them, but it also gave us screaming genocidal alien peppermills with plungers on their faces. You literally never know what the Doctor will encounter next on this show, because Doctor Who’s expansive imagination is matched only by its fearlessness in being just as goofy as it can be dark or heartbreaking. The wild swings in tone and style can be jarring at times, but that’s all part of the fun. The gone-but-not-forgotten Sci-Fi Channel series Farscape is the best other example I can think of when it comes to mixing the silly with the somber, resulting in something wholly unlike 99 percent of the shows that ever make it to screen.

    The criminally underemployed Ben Browder stars as John Crichton, a modern American astronaut sucked through a wormhole and dropped into the “Uncharted Territories,” a wild corner of the galaxy populated by all manner of fantastic alien civilizations. He soon finds himself partnered up with a crew of escaped convicts aboard a living starship called Moya, on the run from one of the most dangerous military forces in the Territories… and that’s just in the first episode. Produced by Jim Henson Productions, Farscape is like the cantina scene from Star Wars writ large and filled with Muppets, chockablock with amazing creatures and colorful worlds that make Star Trek’s recurring forehead prosthetics seem a bit quaint. It’s thrilling, it’s funny, it’s often batshit bonkers (in a good way), and it features one of the best screen romances I’ve ever seen, thanks to blistering onscreen chemistry between Browder and Australian actress Claudia Black. It’s the closest thing we’ve ever had to the weird and wonderful Who here in the States, and it demands your bingeing attention immediately if you haven’t already seen it.

    All four seasons of Farscape are available on Netflix Instant. The first two seasons are also currently available on Hulu.

    If you love the Doctor’s mix of whimsy and emotional scar tissue, try… Fringe

    The Doctor is one of the most dangerous forces in the galaxy, renowned and feared by names such as “The Oncoming Storm.” He’s also a frenetic lunatic who regularly faces down the most vile menaces the universe has to offer, armed only with his wits and a sonic screwdriver. He is also an incredibly lonely nigh immortal who never lets himself stay in one place long enough for the centuries’ worth of lost friends and regretted decisions to pile atop him. For all his charm and eccentricity, the Doctor has done some very bad things, often at the expense of those who trusted him most. But he means well.

    In Fringe, we meet Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), a literal mad scientist and expert in “fringe science” who has spent years institutionalized after a lab accident killed one of his assistants. He’s genial, he’s absent-minded, he’s easily distracted—he’s like your favorite grandpa, a once brilliant man brought low by dementia. The show gradually reveals, however, just how many terrible things Walter did along the road that led him into that institution, choices that put quite literally the entire universe at risk. As with the Doctor, he meant well. But as with the Doctor, the consequences of that road to hell will take a terrible toll on those Walter cares for the most.

    Fringe is many things—a passable X-Files clone that evolves into much more, a cavalcade of grotesqueries and skin-crawling moments, a reminder of why Star Trek’s “Mirror, Mirror” was so much fun—but none of that would be worth a damn without the flawed, complex, tragic figure at its heart.

    Photo via Ben Sutherland/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele, fresh off a primetime improvisation of Super Bowl commentary that couldn’t legally mention any part of the Super Bowl Sunday night, went full Key & Peele as they brought back a beloved sketch to The Late Show.

    In 2013, Key and Peele made fun of the NFL’s excessive flag usage for players’ post-touchdown celebrations with a sketch starring a football player who celebrates with too many pelvic thrusts and a flag-happy referee who will penalize him if he goes over the allotted number of pumps. With a little help from Stephen Colbert, Hingle McCringleberry and that referee returned for even more shenanigans.

    Even if Key and Peele played it safe by using the exact same punchline as the original, it would’ve gotten laughs, and they started with a familiar penalty. But with Colbert’s Kimble Mathias on hand to take the celebration to the next level, the sketch only gets even more ridiculous. It’s a team effort to finally get the referee on their side.

    While there were no pump celebrations at the Super Bowl, it has become an actual celebration move by NFL players. Saints wide receiver Lance Moore used it in 2013, and Broncos cornerback and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller celebrated with a couple of pumps after sacking Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith earlier this season. Miller was fined for it, leading Key and Peele to donate the amount of the fine to Miller’s charity.

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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    After featuring Adele and Coldplay’s Chris Martin in the Carpool Karaoke passenger seat, James Corden drove a living legend around for his post-Super Bowl special.

    Elton John sang some of his biggest hits for the Late Late Show host, and along the way, he discussed knowing he had something special with “Your Song”; why he dressed flamboyantly on-stage (before donning costumes to sing “Crocodile Rock”); and the younger artists who inspired him to make music today.

    "I'm only looking forward,” he said. “I don't look back...When you hear something by someone new that inspires you from the young, it makes you feel 'I'm gonna do that, I want to do that.' So I still have the energy of a 20-year-old, and I want to carry on. I just don’t see the point of setting up shop. Once you stop, you die.”

    John also revealed that he has four copies of every CD he owns—one for each house—and that doesn’t carry a phone, something that baffled Corden. At least he has an iPad. Whew.

    Screengrab via The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube


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    Super Bowl 50 was one for the record books on and off the field. Buzz around players, commercials, and a spectacular halftime performance scored high on social media according to data from analytics pros, Spredfast.

    What does an event like the Super Bowl mean for Twitter? The hashtag #SB50 alone was tweeted 3.8 million times. Peyton versus Cam? Manning came in at more than 1 million tweets, while Newton closed in at 524,000. Commercials didn’t disappoint either. Esurance, Pepsi, and Doritos were the most tweeted about, with Esurance topping the rest at 1.5 million tweets. Spredfast says this year it also saw the most brand-to-brand interaction among big dogs like Pepsi and Esurance.

    Some of the most talked about moments of the big day had absolutely nothing to do with football. The halftime performance with Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Coldplay generated plenty of talk coming in at 161,000 tweets per minute. Beyoncé was the real MVP, generating 147,000 tweets per minute. Coldplay raked in 83,000, and Bruno Mars 28,000. 

    Instagram wasn’t left out of the equation either. The most tagged accounts included the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Lady Gaga, the NFL, and Beyoncé—ranked in that order. Although Queen Bey came in last on Instagram, she did get hers the fastest, coming in at 60 tagged pictures per minute.  

    So who won the Super Bowl? According to numbers on social media: Peyton Manning and Beyoncé. 

    Screengrab via Online Trending/YouTube


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    Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders couldn’t be more opposed their politics, but according to Bill O’Reilly, they have more in common than you might think.

    O’Reilly chatted with Stephen Colbert on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, explaining just why Trump is doing so well in the state. It's a matter of hitting history at the right time, O’Reilly explained, leading him to observe that Trump and Sanders, who are leading polls in New Hampshire, are actually the same guy—just with different facial expressions.

    “What’s bad is both Trump and Sanders say stuff that’s impossible, that could never happen,” he said. “And their followers, I guess, don’t really care.”

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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    You might hate movie romances, but there’s no denying that they’re a staple of the Valentine’s season. Last year, audiences flocked to the BDSM romance Fifty Shades of Grey, but this year, viewers will be forced to pick between The Choice, yet another product from the endless Nicholas Sparks conveyor belt, and How to Be Single, a slightly tamer offering starring Anastasia Grey herself, Dakota Johnson.

    So this Feb. 14, here’s my suggestion: Beat the crowds and don’t waste your money. Stay in with your Apple TV and watch one of these much better offerings currently streaming online. They might not be the Valentine’s movies you expect, but they’re the ones you deserve.

    1) The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Amazon Prime)

    Over a decade after its release, The 40-Year-Old Virgin is still the best movie Judd Apatow has ever made. Apatow’s directorial debut announced him as the auteur of the thinking-man’s stoner bromance—movies in which aging slackers debate life, love, and the merits of Coldplay while playing video games and sharing a bong.

    But the reason that Virgin continues to stand above the pack is that it has something Apatow’s later features often lack: a real sense of vulnerability to them. Virgin is often mislabeled as a “gross-out comedy”—because after all, the movie opens with Andy’s (Steve Carell) morning wood. But it’s written with a naked honesty that’s incredibly rare in studio comedies (or, for that matter, any movies at all). The 40-Year-Old Virgin is filled with characters you know and care about, because you recognize parts of these people in you. You genuinely want them to be find happiness, whether it’s their first lay or the love of their life.

    2) About a Boy (Netflix)

    If there’s anyone who has a stunning track record in Hollywood, it’s British author Nick Hornby. Hornby’s High Fidelity and Fever Pitch were both successfully adapted to the big screen (even Jimmy Fallon can’t muck up a good script), while Hornby has carved out a niche from himself as one of the best screenwriters in the business—following An Education, Wild, and Brooklyn.

    The criminally underrated 2002 comedy About a Boy won’t ruin that sterling reputation anytime soon. Directed by Chris and Paul Weitz, the film is about the unlikely friendship that blossoms between a trust-fund adult (Will, played by Hugh Grant) and the 12-year-old boy, named Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) whom he accidentally meets through a support group for single parents. Will—who is definitely not a father—enrolled as a ruse to meet women but finds himself drawn into Marcus’ life through unexpected circumstances.

    About a Boy is Grant fully in “lovable asshole” mode, but there’s a melancholic yearning in his performance missing in his more overtly rakish work (see: Two Weeks Notice). He’s the kind of guy who isn’t nearly as much of a prick as he thinks he is, and the film’s overt cynicism likewise hides unexpected heart.

    3) Chasing Amy (Netflix)

    Chasing Amy is so much better than every other movie Kevin Smith has ever made that it must have been the result of accidentally getting hit by lightning. A never-better Ben Affleck (yes, even better than in Gone Girl) plays Holden, a comic book artist who develops an attraction to fellow illustrator Amy (Joey Lauren Adams). There’s just one little problem. She’s a lesbian.

    Smith’s film has a lot on its mind—from the blurred boundaries between friendships to the mutability of sexuality—but at its core it acknowledges a simple truth: Love is hell. Salon’s Charles Taylor wrote that it depicts romance as a kind of “emotional anarchy”—one that nearly ends in an ill-advised threesome between Amy, Holden, and Banky (Jason Lee), who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. But it’s not without its hard-earned rewards. The film’s bittersweet finale is one of the most powerful and honest I’ve ever seen on film.

    4) Kicking and Screaming (Hulu)

    Noah Baumbach’s directorial debut qualifies as a romantic comedy in that it is both funny and about love. Grover’s (Josh Hamilton) senior year break-up with Jane (The Wonder Years’ Olivia d’Abo), forms the backbone of the narrative—as she leaves him for a writing program in Prague.

    Some of the details are unforgivably twee (Jane frequently plays with her retainer and pays people when the stories she tells are dull), but there’s a lot here to fall in love with—including one of the decade’s best casts of young talent. Kicking and Screaming was a veritable who’s-who of the ’90s indie movie scene, featuring Parker Posey, Chris Eigeman, Carlos Jacott, and Eric Stoltz.

    These players have a relaxed, easygoing chemistry as a group of best friends who struggle to find themselves after graduating college—or to even leave campus. Kicking and Screaming is about the comfortable rhythms we fall into in our friendships and relationships that make it difficult to move on after they end.

    5) The Kids Are All Right (Netflix)

    The Kids Are All Right is anything but the movie you will expect it to be going in. When the buzzy Sundance hit debuted in theaters, I expected a light, frothy family comedy that just happened to feature a lesbian couple—Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening). What I got instead was an acrid dramedy about infidelity. Jules (Moore) sleeps with the sperm donor that fathered the pair’s children, played Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska. (Given that said donor is the ever-dreamy Mark Ruffalo, you can’t totally blame her.)

    I have friends who hated, hated, hated this movie, but years later, I still can’t get certain scenes out of my mind. Lisa Cholodenko’s script completely nails the neurotic tension inherent in long-term relationships, especially in a restaurant scene where unsaid feelings boil over during a conversation about (what else?) organic farming. “If I hear one person say they love heirloom tomatoes, I’m going to f**king kill myself,” Nic announces. Agreed, Nic. Agreed.

    6) The Last Days of Disco (Hulu)

    Whit Stillman finally got around to making a proper Austen adaptation with this year’s Love and Friendship, but arguably he’s been making Jane Austen movies his entire career. Since Metropolitan, Stillman’s 1990 debut, the director has shown a keen interest in how social norms and class structures dictate in-group dynamics. In Metropolitan, the characters define themselves as members of the “Urban Haute Bourgeoisie,” wearing their status as a badge of honor.

    In his often overlooked 1998 masterpiece, The Last Days of Disco, class is performed not through identity but through endless repartee, as the characters seem to speak only to impress themselves with their wit. The film follows a circle of club-hopping friends in early ’80s New York forever threatened by the possibility of “ferocious pairing off,” as Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale) puts it. Throughout the film, take careful note of Beckinsale’s always too-neat line readings and her character’s meticulous grammar—these things are not an accident.

    In Stillman’s world, love is just another game of words.

    7) Meet John Doe (Hulu)

    I should be putting An Affair to Remember on this list, but either you’ve already watched it and love it or you have not and all the overwritten 200-word blurbs in the world couldn’t convince you. Either way, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr are going to meet on the Empire State Building just fine on their own.

    Instead take a chance on Meet John Doe, one of Frank Capra’s most unheralded entries in his glory of the common man canon. À la My Man Godfrey, this surprisingly dark 1945 satire stars Gary Cooper as John Doe, a down-on-his-luck former baseball player who needs a job. He finds one when a newspaper recruits him to be the face of its John Doe letters—a series of anonymous public grievances penned by a gifted female columnist, Ann Mitchell (played by an always sharp Barbara Stanwyck). Ann believes in the power of the press for change, but not as much as she comes to believe in the man she creates, even as the ruse spins out of control.

    8) Notting Hill (Netflix)

    Hugh Grant is nothing if not the patron saint of modern romantic comedies—between Bridget Jones’s Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Sense and Sensibility—but it’s notable that in one of his best films, the love plot doesn’t work at all. I mean no disrespect to Julia Roberts when I say that the film would be much better off if her character simply weren’t in it: I know Anna is supposed to be the most famous person in the world, but does she have to be such a huge jerk? After painfully rejecting William (Grant) twice, she shows up on his doorstep with a pretty speech—as if it’s all cool. I would have told her to get lost.

    The more interesting—and quite lovely—film is the romance taking place at the margins, about the love between a group of friends saddled with a lifetime of disappointments. Tony (Richard McCabe) is a failed restaurateur. Bella (Gina McKee), confined to a wheelchair after an accident, can’t conceive a child with her husband. These scenes, however, aren’t depicted as sad but hopeful and even jovial, brimming with a boisterous energy. Whenever the film forgets it’s supposed to be about Will getting the girl, it’s an utter delight.

    9) Pride and Prejudice (Netflix)

    Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice had its work cut out for it. In 1995, the BBC aired a six-part miniseries that would become the definitive Jane Austen adaptation. Starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, you likely remember it by the scene where a dripping wet Mr. Darcy (peak Colin Firth) emerges in a white T-shirt after diving in a pond.

    But what Wright’s adaptation lacks in moist Colin Firth action it more than makes up for on the strength of a stellar ensemble—featuring Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone, Brenda Blethyn, Rosamund Pike, Carey Mulligan, Judi Dench, and Keira Knightley. Knightley, who had previously starred in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, was a controversial choice to play the second-eldest Bennet sister, but she totally nails it. Brash, outspoken, and fiercely independent, she gives audiences the character they’ve grown to love—even as the film drastically abridges the material for modern audiences.

    It’s certainly Pride and Prejudice for the masses, but it’s also spirited and surprisingly sumptuous. Like its BBC predecessor, the film isn’t afraid to make Jane Austen sexy.

    10) Punch-Drunk Love (Netflix)

    Punch-Drunk Love was simply too great to last. After a career of churning out mindless, low-brow comedies, Adam Sandler made exactly one great movie: Punch-Drunk Love. P.T. Anderson’s difficult-to-pin-down pitch-black-comedy/romance is a total deconstruction of the Sandler type—repressed and angry, prone to bursts of aggression in which he lashes out at those around him. If Roger Ebert once argued that his usual character is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, “cloyingly sweet at some times and a cruel monster at others,” Anderson finally recognizes it.

    Instead of playing the hero, Punch-Drunk Love casts Sandler as a tragic, lost soul searching for redemption. His character, Barry Egan, finds that hope in Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), who shares his love of casual cruelty. “I just wanna fuckin’ smash [your face] with a sledgehammer and squeeze it, you’re so pretty,” he tells Lena one morning. She responds: “I want to chew your face, and I want to scoop out your eyes and I want to eat them and chew them and suck on them.”

    Punch-Drunk Love is the movie that should have marked a turning point in his career—Sandler’s own shot at a second chance. Unfortunately, we got Jack and Jill and The Ridiculous 6 instead.

    11) Roman Holiday (Netflix)

    You know a classic romantic comedy still holds up when Hollywood can’t stop remaking it. Surely you’ve seen this movie before: Cooped-up young woman with too many responsibilities meets a dark and handsome man who whisks her away from captivity on a whirlwind adventure. To an extent, it’s the plot of Romancing the Stone, but more directly, the idea was lifted for the Mandy Moore–Matthew Goode “I’m the president’s daughter!” rom-com Chasing Liberty in 2004.

    I’d say stick with the original—because how can you improve on Audrey Hepburn and Clark Gable? (Hint: You can’t.) William Wyler (Ben-Hur) directs this 1953 classic about a princess (Hepburn) who enjoys a romantic travelogue with a comely American newsman (Gable), and as in all her films, Hepburn radiates a timeless elegance. The movie sizzles not with sex—Gable, 13 years older, reads more as a father figure than a love interest—but with romance in its purest form.

    It’s about the romantic abandon that doesn’t come from love but from experiencing freedom for the first time—the simple joy of biking through Europe with the wind through your hair.

    12) Two Lovers (Hulu/Netflix)

    With Two Lovers and The Immigrant, James Gray proves himself one of the finest masters of the modern melodrama. Whereas the 1920s-set The Immigrant is an homage to the golden age of moviemaking, Grey’s Two Lovers feels ripped from the cinema of ’70s—from Panic in Needle Park to Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon—except that it stars Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow.

    Adapted from a Dostoyevsky short story, the film stars Phoenix as Leonard Kraditor—who is drawn between the blind date his parents set him up with (Vinessa Shaw) and an intriguing neighbor who engaged in an affair with a married man (Paltrow). With self-destructive vigor, Leonard finds himself intoxicated by the woman next door—even as she continually proves herself unavailable. Paltrow and Phoenix are both superb in their roles, infusing their doomed courtship with a raw vivacity.

    But Leonard is forced to ask himself: What’s more important, a fleeting romance with someone who he can never be with or a life with the woman he knows is waiting for him? The answer is more complicated than you think.

    13) Y Tu Mamá También (Netflix)

    Back in the days when video stores were still a thing, I rented Y Tu Mamá También on a recommendation from a friend, not knowing what it was about. Given that it had “Mama” in the title, I figured that meant it was family-friendly and invited my mother to watch it with me. (Cut me some slack; I was 14 and really, really dumb.)

    If you’re familiar with the plot of Y Tu Mamá También, you’re aware that decision was a big mistake: The 2001 Mexican-set drama is about a steamy love triangle between Tenoch (Diego Luna); his best friend, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal); and his cousin’s wife, Luisa (Maribel Verdú), who is dying of cancer. She accepts an invitation with them to go on a road trip to see a secret beach known as “Heaven's Mouth,” and their journey quickly turns into a tangled mess of erotic fantasy.

    The funny thing is that both my mother and I ended up adoring it—although for very different reasons. She liked how boisterous Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-nominated screenplay was (loaded with playful, scatalogical banter between carmates), and I enjoyed the film’s sexual politics, with the movie set against a time of governmental and social upheaval. This is a time in Mexican society when Tenoch and Julio’s gay male friends have boyfriends, which makes the pair’s own erotic encounter all the more dangerous.

    Fifteen years after its release, Y Tu Mamá También remains a one-movie sexual revolution. Watch it with someone nice and stay inside with a bottle of wine.

    Screengrab via hollywoodstreams/YouTube


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