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            The energetic host Taye Diggs kicked off the evening at the 24th Critics Choice Awards in Santa Monica, CA, with a song and dance number that honored inclusivity in this year's acclaimed films: “Crazy Rich Asians,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Roma,” “Green Street” and “Black Panther,” all to the tune of Cardi B's "I Like It"—a perfect crowd-pleaser. 

            imageCredit: Sarah Knight Adamson

            A rare occurrence also happened Sunday evening in two of the women’s categories: Best Actress in Film, and Best Actress in a Movie Made for Television or a Limited Series—both garnered ties. Glenn Close, for “The Wife” and Lady Gaga, for "A Star is Born." Earlier in the evening, it was Amy Adams, for “Sharp Objects,” and Patricia Arquette, for “Escape at Dannemora.” They shared Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television trophies.

            The Best Actress Oscar race is now the most capricious, as Lady Gaga is back in the running after being shut out of the Golden Globes. Close’s riveting performance in “The Wife” showcased her career talents as one of the great actors of our time. For Lady Gaga, a relative newcomer to acting, she stunned all in her soul-baring, passionate and natural performance.

            Glenn Close’s warm acceptance speech was directed to all women as she embraced the notion of celebrating together with another female, instead of continually being pitted against each other. Close thanked her daughter Annie Starke, for helping her create her part in “The Wife.” A tearful and gracious Lady Gaga praised her director Bradley Cooper for his cinematic guidance. After leaving the backstage press room upon the conclusion of the show, while following the exiting crowd, I found myself directly behind the “A Star is Born” dinner table and witnessed a supportive Sam Elliot and a misty-eyed Gaga sharing a tender moment.

            imageGetty Images

            In the Best Picture race, “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón’s personal black and white foreign language film won both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Film. "Roma" received four awards in total, the most of the night, including Best Director and Best Cinematography. “Black Panther” and “Vice” followed close behind, each winning in three categories.

            Christian Bale, as Dick Cheney in “Vice,” won the Best Actor and the Best Actor in a Comedy awards for his conspirator performance. “Bohemian Rhapsody'"s Rami Malek and “Green Book”s Viggo Mortensen are also main runners for the Best Actor Oscar.

            In the Best Supporting roles, Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk” won over co-frontrunner “Vice's” Amy Adams, who has been Oscar-nominated five times, but has yet to win. King paid homage to author James Baldwin, writer of the 1974 novel the movie is based on by saying, “Thank you for being the voice for the voiceless—for educating a country even when they didn’t want to learn a lesson. For still educating us posthumously.” Concluding, “I’ll leave you with this: in the words of James Baldwin, ‘we can make America what America must become.’” 

            Mahershala Ali’s Dr. Don Shirley’s performance in “Green Book” won critics over frontrunner Richard E. Grant’s performance in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Ali sidestepped the recent "Green Book" controversies by speaking directly to the film's composer and pianist, Kris Bowers, saying, "This gentleman I owe so much. This is my other co-star, he doubles for me, and he did the composition for the film. He was my piano teacher and my friend." 

            imageGetty Images

            Upon the announcement of Best Comedy, “Crazy Rich Asians” the excitement was apparent as the cast leaped to their feet and rushed to the stage while high-fiving and cheering. Best Sci-fi or Horror Movie winner John Krasinski for “A Quiet Place” gave a tribute to his wife, Emily Blunt and their kids by saying, "I got to make a movie about a love story and a love letter to my kids. I got to do it with the love of my life by my side, so I'm pretty sure it doesn't get much better than that. Thank you so much."

            This year’s #SeeHer Award recipient, Claire Foy, was presented by former #SeeHer Award recipient Viola Davis. The award recognizes a woman who embodies the values set forth by the #SeeHer movement—to push boundaries on changing stereotypes and recognize the importance of authentic portrayals of women across the entertainment landscape. The mission of #SeeHer is to accurately portray all women and girls in media so that by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, they see themselves reflected as they truly are.

            imageCredit: Sarah Knight Adamson

            In conclusion, the evening is a celebration honoring talent and a chance for critics to meet talent face to face. Each year has a different tone, as last year’s #MeToo movement had just kicked off. ‘Inclusion’ now appears to be front and center.   

            FILM

            BEST PICTURE

            “Black Panther”
            “BlacKkKlansman”
            The Favourite
            First Man
            “Green Book”
            “If Beale Street Could Talk”
            Mary Poppins Returns
            “Roma”
            “A Star Is Born”
            “Vice”

            BEST ACTOR

            Christian Bale – “Vice”
            Bradley Cooper – “A Star Is Born”
            Willem Dafoe – “At Eternity’s Gate”
            Ryan Gosling – “First Man”
            Ethan Hawke – “First Reformed
            Rami Malek – “Bohemian Rhapsody
            Viggo Mortensen – “Green Book”

            BEST ACTRESS

            Yalitza Aparicio – “Roma”
            Emily Blunt – “Mary Poppins Returns”
            WINNER (tie): Glenn Close – “The Wife”
            Toni Collette – “Hereditary
            Olivia Colman – “The Favourite”
            WINNER (tie): Lady Gaga – “A Star Is Born”
            Melissa McCarthy – “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

            BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

            Mahershala Ali – “Green Book”
            Timothée Chalamet – “Beautiful Boy”
            Adam Driver – “BlacKkKlansman”
            Sam Elliott – “A Star Is Born”
            Richard E. Grant – “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
            Michael B. Jordan – “Black Panther”

            BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

            Amy Adams – “Vice”
            Claire Foy - "First Man"
            Nicole Kidman – “Boy Erased
            Regina King – “If Beale Street Could Talk”
            Emma Stone – “The Favourite”
            Rachel Weisz – “The Favourite”

            BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS

            Elsie Fisher – “Eighth Grade
            Thomasin McKenzie – “Leave No Trace
            Ed Oxenbould – “Wildlife
            Millicent Simmonds – “A Quiet Place”
            Amandla Stenberg – “The Hate U Give
            Sunny Suljic – “Mid90s

            BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE

            “Black Panther”
            “Crazy Rich Asians”
            “The Favourite”
            “Vice”
            Widows

            BEST DIRECTOR

            Damien Chazelle – “First Man”
            Bradley Cooper – “A Star Is Born”
            Alfonso Cuaron – “Roma”
            Peter Farrelly – “Green Book”
            Yorgos Lanthimos – “The Favourite”
            Spike Lee – “BlacKkKlansman”
            Adam McKay – “Vice”

            BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

            Bo Burnham – “Eighth Grade”
            Alfonso Cuarón – “Roma”
            Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara – “The Favourite”
            Adam McKay – “Vice”
            Paul Schrader – “First Reformed”
            Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly – “Green Book”
            Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski – “A Quiet Place”

            BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

            Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole – “Black Panther”
            Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty – “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
            Barry Jenkins – “If Beale Street Could Talk”
            Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters – “A Star Is Born”
            Josh Singer – “First Man”
            Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee – “BlacKkKlansman”

            BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

            Alfonso Cuaron – “Roma”
            James Laxton – “If Beale Street Could Talk”
            Matthew Libatique – “A Star Is Born”
            Rachel Morrison – “Black Panther”
            Robbie Ryan – “The Favourite”
            Linus Sandgren – “First Man”

            BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

            Hannah Beachler, Jay Hart – “Black Panther”
            Eugenio Caballero, Barbara Enriquez – “Roma”
            Nelson Coates, Andrew Baseman – “Crazy Rich Asians”
            Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton – “The Favourite”
            Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas – “First Man”
            John Myhre, Gordon Sim – “Mary Poppins Returns”

            BEST EDITING

            Jay Cassidy – “A Star Is Born”
            Hank Corwin – “Vice”
            Tom Cross – “First Man”
            Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough – “Roma”
            Yorgos Mavropsaridis – “The Favourite”
            Joe Walker – “Widows”

            BEST COSTUME DESIGN

            Alexandra Byrne – “Mary Queen of Scots
            Ruth Carter – “Black Panther”
            Julian Day – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
            Sandy Powell – “The Favourite”
            Sandy Powell – “Mary Poppins Returns”

            BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP

            “Black Panther”
            “Bohemian Rhapsody”
            “The Favourite”
            “Mary Queen of Scots”
            Suspiria
            “Vice”

            BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

            Avengers: Infinity War
            “Black Panther”
            “First Man”
            “Mary Poppins Returns”
            “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”
            Ready Player One

            BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

            The Grinch
            Incredibles 2
            Isle of Dogs
            Mirai
            Ralph Breaks the Internet
            Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

            BEST ACTION MOVIE

            “Avengers: Infinity War”
            “Black Panther”
            Deadpool 2
            “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”
            “Ready Player One”
            “Widows”

            BEST COMEDY

            “Crazy Rich Asians”
            “Deadpool 2”
            The Death of Stalin
            “The Favourite”
            Game Night
            Sorry to Bother You

            BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY

            Christian Bale – “Vice”
            Jason Bateman – “Game Night”
            Viggo Mortensen – “Green Book”
            John C. Reilly – “Stan & Ollie
            Ryan Reynolds – “Deadpool 2”
            Lakeith Stanfield – “Sorry to Bother You”

            BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

            Emily Blunt – “Mary Poppins Returns”
            Olivia Colman – “The Favourite”
            Elsie Fisher – “Eighth Grade”
            Rachel McAdams – “Game Night”
            Charlize Theron – “Tully”
            Constance Wu – “Crazy Rich Asians”

            BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE

            Annihilation
            “Halloween”
            “Hereditary”
            “A Quiet Place”
            “Suspiria”

            BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

            Burning
            Capernaum
            Cold War
            “Roma”
            Shoplifters

            BEST SONG

            “All the Stars” – “Black Panther”
            “Girl in the Movies” – “Dumplin’”
            “I’ll Fight” – “RBG
            “The Place Where Lost Things Go” – “Mary Poppins Returns”
            “Shallow” – “A Star Is Born”
            “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” – “Mary Poppins Returns”

            BEST SCORE

            Kris Bowers – “Green Book”
            Nicholas Britell – I”f Beale Street Could Talk”
            Alexandre Desplat – “Isle of Dogs”
            Ludwig Göransson – “Black Panther”
            Justin Hurwitz – “First Man”
            Marc Shaiman – “Mary Poppins Returns”

            TV

            BEST DRAMA SERIES

            “The Americans” (FX)
            “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
            “The Good Fight” (CBS All Access)
            “Homecoming” (Amazon)
            “Killing Eve” (BBC America)
            “My Brilliant Friend” (HBO)
            “Pose” (FX)
            “Succession” (HBO)

            BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

            Freddie Highmore – “The Good Doctor” (ABC)
            Diego Luna – “Narcos: Mexico” (Netflix)
            Richard Madden – “Bodyguard” (Netflix)
            Bob Odenkirk – “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
            Billy Porter – “Pose” (FX)
            Matthew Rhys – “The Americans” (FX)
            Milo Ventimiglia – “This Is Us” (NBC)

            BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

            Jodie Comer – “Killing Eve” (BBC America)
            Maggie Gyllenhaal – “The Deuce” (HBO)
            Elisabeth Moss – “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
            Sandra Oh – “Killing Eve” (BBC America)
            Elizabeth Olsen – “Sorry For Your Loss” (Facebook Watch)
            Julia Roberts – “Homecoming” (Amazon)
            Keri Russell – “The Americans” (FX)

            BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

            Richard Cabral – “Mayans M.C.” (FX)
            Asia Kate Dillon – “Billions” (Showtime)
            Noah Emmerich – “The Americans” (FX)
            Justin Hartley – “This Is Us” (NBC)
            Matthew Macfadyen – “Succession” (HBO)
            Richard Schiff – “The Good Doctor” (ABC)
            Shea Whigham – “Homecoming” (Amazon)

            BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

            Dina Shihabi – “Jack Ryan” (Amazon)
            Julia Garner – “Ozark” (Netflix)
            Thandie Newton – “Westworld” (HBO)
            Rhea Seehorn – “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
            Yvonne Strahovski – “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)Holly Taylor – “The Americans” (FX)

            BEST COMEDY SERIES

            “Atlanta” (FX)
            Barry” (HBO)
            “The Good Place” (NBC)
            “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
            “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
            “The Middle” (ABC)
            “One Day at a Time” (Netflix)
            “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop)

            BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

            Hank Azaria – “Brockmire” (IFC)
            Ted Danson – “The Good Place” (NBC)
            Michael Douglas – “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
            Donald Glover – “Atlanta” (FX)
            Bill Hader – “Barry” (HBO)
            Jim Parsons – “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
            Andy Samberg – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox)

            BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

            Rachel Bloom – “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW)
            Rachel Brosnahan – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
            Allison Janney – “Mom” (CBS)
            Justina Machado – “One Day at a Time” (Netflix)
            Debra Messing – “Will & Grace” (NBC)
            Issa Rae – “Insecure” (HBO)

            BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

            William Jackson Harper – “The Good Place” (NBC)
            Sean Hayes – “Will & Grace” (NBC)
            Brian Tyree Henry – “Atlanta” (FX)
            Nico Santos – “Superstore” (NBC)
            Tony Shalhoub – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
            Henry Winkler – “Barry” (HBO)

            BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

            Alex Borstein – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
            Betty Gilpin – “GLOW” (Netflix)
            Laurie Metcalf – “The Conners” (ABC)
            Rita Moreno – “One Day at a Time” (Netflix)
            Zoe Perry – “Young Sheldon” (CBS)Annie Potts – “Young Sheldon” (CBS)
            Miriam Shor – “Younger” (TV Land)

            BEST LIMITED SERIES

            “A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)
            “American Vandal” (Netflix)
            “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
            “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
            “Genius: Picasso” (National Geographic)
            “Sharp Objects” (HBO)

            BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

            “Icebox” (HBO)
            “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” (NBC)
            King Lear” (Amazon)
            “My Dinner with Herve” (HBO)
            “Notes from the Field” (HBO)
            The Tale” (HBO)

            BEST ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

            Antonio Banderas – “Genius: Picasso” (National Geographic)
            Darren Criss – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
            Paul Dano – “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
            Benicio Del Toro – “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
            Hugh Grant – “A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)
            John Legend – “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” (NBC)

            BEST ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

            WINNER (tie): Amy Adams – “Sharp Objects” (HBO)
            WINNER (tie): Patricia Arquette – “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
            Connie Britton – “Dirty John” (Bravo)
            Carrie Coon – “The Sinner” (USA Network)
            Laura Dern – “The Tale” (HBO)
            Anna Deavere Smith – “Notes From the Field” (HBO)

            BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

            Brandon Victor Dixon – “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” (NBC)
            Eric Lange – “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
            Alex Rich – “Genius: Picasso” (National Geographic)
            Peter Sarsgaard – “The Looming Tower” (Hulu)
            Finn Wittrock – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
            Ben Whishaw – “A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)

            BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

            Ellen Burstyn – “The Tale” (HBO)
            Patricia Clarkson – “Sharp Objects” (HBO)
            Penelope Cruz – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
            Julia Garner – “Dirty John” (Bravo)
            Judith Light – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
            Elizabeth Perkins – “Sharp Objects” (HBO)

            BEST ANIMATED SERIES

            “Adventure Time” (Cartoon Network)
            “Archer” (FX)
            “Bob’s Burgers” (Fox)
            “BoJack Horseman” (Netflix)
            “The Simpsons” (Fox)
            “South Park” (Comedy Central)

            “Critics’ Choice Awards” are bestowed annually by the BFCA and BTJA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement. The BFCA is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. BTJA is the collective voice of journalists who regularly cover television for TV viewers, radio listeners, and online audiences. 

            Sarah Knight Adamson© January 15, 2019, member of the BFCA, article for Rogerebert.com




            Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/festivals-and-awards/roma-vice-black-panther-win-big-at-24th-critics-choice-awards
            By: Sarah Knight Adamson
            Posted: January 16, 2019, 2:26 pm

            • Entertainer
              Entertainer published a blog post The Heiresses

              Thumb heiresses 2019

              "The Heiresses," a Paraguayan drama written and directed by Marcelo Martinessi, could be called a quiet movie. There aren't too many earth-shaking moments. The plot is minimal. But underneath the film's quiet is a heaving ocean of longing, restlessness, melancholy. At the film's start, we enter a world where time has essentially stopped, for decades. The characters' routines do not bring them happiness, not that we can tell, but the routines are all that they know. Over the course of the film, those routines are shattered and suddenly time starts rushing forward again, bringing with it the unexpected, the painful, the joyful. Emotions never before experienced come surging to the surface. How Martinessi pulls this off—in what is his first feature—is nothing less than extraordinary. 

              Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irun) have been together for 30 years, a lesbian couple of the elite class, living in a large home in Paraguay’s capital Asunción. Their relationship is one of opposites: Chela, a painter, is introverted and subdued, while Chiquita is extroverted and passionate. Their home is filled with family heirlooms, all of which they are auctioning off to pay Chiquita's massive debts. When Chiquita is given a short prison sentence for fraud, Chela is left alone in the home for the first time. Before Chiquita goes to prison, she hires a maid (Nilda Gonzalez), training her in how Chela likes her breakfast tray arranged. Chela and Chiquita live in a world where you no longer have any furniture in your house, and one of you is off to jail because of unpaid debts, but you still have a maid. "The Heiresses" is filled with details like this, the unspoken assumptions of class and privilege, and what happens when those boundaries start breaking down.

              Chiquita flourishes in prison, picking up on the rules and making friends. She's a hot shot. Chiquita is adaptable to circumstances, whereas Chela—totally thrown if the coffee cup on her breakfast tray is placed with the handle facing the wrong way—is rigid, unable to adjust. Her footsteps echo through her increasingly empty house. Almost by accident, and despite the fact that she doesn't have a driver's license, she finds herself running an ad hoc taxi service for her elderly next-door neighbor Pituca (María Martins), using her father's Mercedes (which she so far has refused to sell). Angy (Ana Ivanova), the daughter of one of Pituca's friends, hires Chela to drive her mother to doctor's appointments. Suddenly Chela is so busy with her new taxi life, and so drawn to the sensuous Angy she's like a high school girl with a crush, she misses visiting day at the prison. 

              The shifting stratification of class and rank in "The Heiresses" is one of its many fascinations, as well as central to how it operates. Chela and Chiquita are of the elite, but their home is falling into ruin. Chela drives a Mercedes but it's so old sometimes it won't start. In the hierarchy of service, being a maid is better than driving a taxi, and Chela, surrounded by her family's crystal and china, is now on the bottom of the heap. Angy, a much younger woman, operates in a world of sexual possibility, and in that world, none of these class distinctions matter. Martinessi is sensitive to power dynamics and the various layers of privilege in operation in almost every exchange. 

              Brun won Best Actress at Berlin last year for her performance as Chela. It is—astonishingly—her first film credit (although she has a successful stage career in Paraguay). Brun's performance as Chela works by stealth. In the opening sequences, her devastation at their financial ruin runs so deep it's always present on her face, a simmering mix of panic, despair, and humiliation. Misery exhales off of her. It's hard to tell exactly when things start to shift, and part of the film's tension comes from watching Brun's slow transformation. While this may sound like another entry in the "middle-aged lady gets her groove back" genre, "The Heiresses" is up to something a little bit different, a little bit darker, and much of that is due to Brun's performance. Chela's emotions, her hopes, her attraction to Angy, her loneliness ... all of these things threaten to overwhelm her (and us). Brun's vulnerability is profound. Chela is so weighted down at the start of the film that the lightening of her mood is wonderful to see but it's also alarming. Hope brings with it the possibility of heartbreak, and Brun draws you totally into that experience, with little to no explanatory dialogue. What a remarkable performance. 

              Cinematographer Luis Armando Arteaga helps create the Chekhovian mood of "The Heiresses," filming in widescreen, turning Chela and Chiquita's decaying house into a prison of shadows, with no real way out. With every scene, more furniture vanishes from those dark rooms. The stained wallpaper shows the outlines of picture frames, taken down after decades. It is a place trapped in time, a relic, surrounded by the rise of a confusing present and future, where class hierarchies and certainties no longer carry weight. 

              It is in the unspoken where "The Heiresses" is its most powerful. The truth is somewhere between the lines. Within this story of a woman joining the river of time again, you can glimpse an entire culture's struggle to move out of the past and lurch into the future, into the unknown.




              Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-heiresses-2019
              By: Sheila O'Malley
              Posted: January 16, 2019, 2:26 pm

            • Thumb blackmonday pilot subway 3group 0316rb.contrast

              The first major TV disappointment of 2019 is here in Showtime’s disjointed, frustrating comedy “Black Monday,” a show with an incredible ensemble of talented actors but as little focus as its cocaine-addled characters. With a premiere episode directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, a clever enough concept, and this cast, how could “Black Monday” fail? It’s just further proof that you can gather some of the most likable actors in the same room, but the show still won’t work if you don’t give them something interesting to do. The show improves greatly in the second episode (although it dips back a bit in the third), so there’s reason to hope that this ragtag group of traders gets their comedic shit together, but I wouldn’t buy this TV stock quite yet.

              image

              If you’re too young to remember the actual Black Monday, the title refers to the worst stock market crash in Wall Street history on October 19, 1987. Creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahan open on that nightmare of a day when stock brokers literally leapt from their Wall Street windows, flashing back with a promise to detail how and why the still-mysterious crash happened. From scene one, the show plays fast and loose with ‘80s fashion and style, amping up the hairdos, tightening the blue jeans, and sprinkling cocaine over almost everything. At times, it plays almost like a parody of the ’80s, like Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” (which is actually rather humorously a part of the plot of episode two) mixed through the lens of VH1’s “I Love the ‘80s.”

              The great Don Cheadle stars as Maurice Monroe, the head of a Wall Street firm called The Jammer Group. Mo is a loudmouth scam artist, the kind of guy who drives a Lamborghini Limousine, and barely flinches when someone points out how ridiculous that is because it doesn’t give the speed of the former or the comfort of the latter. Cocaine, strippers, a robot butler—Mo is almost a variation on Jordan Belfort from “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Except this is a TV show, so Mo can’t quite be that cutthroat or that interesting, coming off more as a caricature than someone genuine. Cheadle tries his best to ground Mo—and there’s every reason to believe he’ll find the nuance missing from this character over the first three episodes, but I can only judge what I’ve seen and I found Mo far more annoying than I did engaging. Like really, really annoying.

              Making out much better and pretty much stealing the show is the great Regina Hall as Mo’s longtime partner (and possible love interest) Dawn. Hall can ground a ridiculous moment or sell an overwritten scene like nobody else, and she walks away with “Black Monday” almost every time she’s on screen. Sadly, the typically excellent Andrew Rannells (“Girls”) isn’t so lucky yet, floundering as the new kid at the company who’s in way over his head. The supporting cast is filled out with people I typically love including Casey Wilson, Paul Scheer, Ken Marino, and Horatio Sanz.

              image

              Most damagingly, “Black Monday” is a show in search of a tone. The first episode is particularly scattershot, jumping wildly among its characters and mistaking fast-talking for saying something interesting. Rogen and Goldberg simply lose the handle on what we should care about in this half-hour and I was actively annoyed by it. Now, much to my surprise, the second episode, directed by Charles Stone III (“Uncle Drew”) finds its footing much better, although it still doesn’t quite live up to the potential of this ensemble. And then the third episode dips back to goofy behavior that betrayed the real emotion I think the writers are attempting, especially in a subplot involving Scheer’s character that can’t find the right tone. Sometimes a comedy falls into a gap between parody and realism, usually because it wants to be both and doesn't develop enough of either. It wants us to laugh at the excess of characters who are larger than life but then respond to emotional beats as if they’re not caricatures in the next scene.

              Now, this is an easily fixable problem. Many of the greatest comedies of all time started off on rocky terrain, often before the writers knew how to write to the strengths of their ensemble. Casting is so much of the battle when it comes to winning the comedy fight. If the writers behind “Black Monday” can wrestle their tonal problems into something more enjoyable, they’ve got the right people to make this show great. Right now, they just don’t have enough comedy capital to close the sale.

              The first three episodes of the first season screened for review.

               




              Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/demanders/showtimes-black-monday-wastes-talented-ensemble
              By: Brian Tallerico
              Posted: January 16, 2019, 2:26 pm

              • Entertainer
                Entertainer published a blog post Fyre Fraud

                Thumb fyre image

                Aaron Sorkin has recently expressed interest in making a sequel to “The Social Network,” his Oscar-winning script about the rise of Facebook, and the burgeoning culture of online acceptance that made it a historic success. Someone should tell him that the story within Hulu documentary “Fyre Fraud” beat him to the punch, telling of how a new upstart—with privilege, coding skills, and an intuition for what his peers want most—sold a fantasy that became a monstrous failure. McFarland’s 2017 Fyre Festival, the “Woodstock of the Millennial Generation” (as someone calls it here), proved to be a scam borne in part from monumental misjudgment, its FEMA tent accommodations and styrofoam sandwich dinners mere symbols for the vacuous nature of our contemporary illusion-driven online culture. It's a story that inspired a documentary gold rush (we'll be reviewing a second Fyre Fest doc from Netflix on Friday), but in the case of "Fyre Fraud," it has made for an often hilarious and incisive treatise on Millennial hubris. 

                Written and directed by Julia Willoughby Nason and Jenner Furst, “Fyre Fraud” is much stranger than fiction, and yet it tells a story that makes perfect sense in the age of influencers and the general need to be seen. At first it was a dream, a music festival in the Bahamas over two weeks, promising villas and and white-glove concierge service, dinners with special guests, and a bunch of fellow music-lovin', photogenic Millennials on one island. Before it became a very real nightmare for all who had flown down to the Bahamas and spent thousands of dollars on getting a sunburn and flying back home, it was meant to be a paradise populated with everyone’s favorite musicians, social media riffraff and movie stars: I’m talking Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music, Emily Ratajkowski, Migos, Lil Yachty, Hailey Bieber (formerly Hailey Baldwin), Diplo and many more. Whether or not you're hip to those names and terms like "FOMO," you should tune in: like taking all of your clothes and putting them on your bed after a visit from Marie Kondo, "Fyre Fraud" offers whopping perspective in its summation of our online culture, displaying everything at once while showing just how unsustainable so much of it is.  

                The developments in McFarland's con story are truly baffling, and yet you can see clearly how this scheme came together, and pressed on cringing-moment-by-cringing-moment until there was nothing left to hide. “Fyre Fraud” provides a vivid sense of the mentalities that would be wooed by this nothing festival: for the head honchos who knew that if they looked like they built it, Millennials would come; and for the consumers themselves, who would spend a mind-boggling amount of money, to star in such a reverie. McFarland and his team brilliantly marketed the event, using Instagram and multi-million-follower influencers like Kendall Jenner and FuckJerry (the latter of which their handler at the time, Oren Aks, speaks openly here), but were so detached from reality that they didn’t perceive what a catastrophic disaster they were setting everyone up for. 

                As the documentary profiles McFarland in detail, he's proven to be a perfect match for the superficiality of influencer culture given his status as a compulsive liar and an updated dictionary’s definition of a con man. From “Fyre Fraud,” a stable narrative arises of where that came from, like with his steel credit card company Magnises, (which only provided the image of having a fancy credit card) further poking holes into the facade that some of the most successful have any idea of what they're doing. But he is shown to be savvy about the culture, appearing very much a product of it himself, while constantly being embroiled in one shady promise after another. And yet he plows through with Fyre Festival with the help of investors and support from Ja Rule (looking to fall into success) and the absurd sidekick Grant Margolin (referred to as McFarland's Dwight Schrute). They start work on Fyre Fest a mere four months before the first arrival, dumping the on-the-ground responsibility on hired workers and Bahamians who worked day in and day out.   

                Nason & Furst have a welcoming flashiness when telling this story, cutting quickly between talking head interviews, select archive footage and various accentuating clips from pop culture, as if it were taking that filmmaking method back from second-stage Adam McKay movies “The Big Short” and “Vice.” These clips can be appropriately hit and miss, especially if things are too on-the-nose, like a whack-a-mole insert meant to accompany McFarland's comparing of his self-made problems to the futility of that game. But in one of its more clever cultural commentaries, "Fyre Fraud" uses moments from shows you can watch on Hulu, making the doc's zeitgeist all the more immediate. Call it product placement, but it also makes for apt metaphors that speak to the same absurd tone, like when someone compares McFarland’s ventures to those of Jean-Ralphio and Tom Haverford’s on “Parks & Recreation,” their own failed Entertainment 720 business only excelling at displaying flashy nonsense. 

                You can often tell a great documentary from the care that is put into talking head interviews, of which “Fyre Fraud” is a textbook example. McFarland speaks in a room that's revealed to be large and empty, and perhaps staring into the abyss he has made, calls it ominous. Sometimes shot in profile close-up, his sharp eyes are the most fascinating nature, flickering as they process his next lie while his face tries to look clueless, disarmed. 

                McFarland shares a similar interview setting for those who have gotten into his orbit, whether it's lawyers, former employees, or social media types, who speak in big spaces that look like someone forgot to fill in. It’s then especially fitting that the doc’s pop culture and social media commentators—like the New Yorker’s incredibly astute Jia Tolentino—opine from tall buildings, surrounded by natural light. They are removed from the nonsense of this saga and able to offer their clear perspective, diagnosing what influencers really mean to us, and what our fixation with their business hath wrought. 

                But "Fyre Fraud" does not just dunk on McFarland, Ja Rule, and anyone who might be complicit—they’re clowns already, their plainly not-smart choices and astounding arrogance making for super-size schadenfreude. More persuasively, it's a damnation of the mentality that helped make it possible, calling out a culture that progressively puts more value into how you make yourself look online. And yet we’ll look back at "Fyre Fraud" like we do “The Social Network,” as this is not so much a time capsule but a catch-up to where the beast of social media psychology is headed next. One day we'll stop making memes about Fyre Fest, but the sentiment behind “fomo,” and the obsession with following fantasy lifestyles to feel like we're a part of something, will proliferate and only lead to the next worst thing. It feels like the best that we can do now is just soak up the cringe comedy, in which everyone’s arrival to the barren festival site is one of the Millennials’ darkest jokes yet. 




                Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/fyre-fraud-2019
                By: Nick Allen
                Posted: January 16, 2019, 4:09 pm

              •   Islam denies that Jesus died and rose again after three days, one of the central teachings of the Gospel. And Mark 14:50 is one verse which Muslims quote to try and support the Islamic claim that Jesus was never crucified. 

                  "Then they all deserted Him and ran away." Mark 14:50

                  They claim that, since Jesus' apostles abandoned Him at the Garden of Gethsemane, there would have been no



                Original: https://apologika.blogspot.com/2016/07/did-all-of-jesus-apostles-desert-him-at.html
                By: Mari Kaimo
                Posted: July 22, 2016, 8:37 pm

              • Nyrie Roos as a digital marketing services provider plays a major role in enhancing brand awareness within the digital space as well as driving website traffic and acquiring leads/customers.

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                Roger Samara is a Computer technician at Asiatic solution with 10 years of experience. He is master of Computer's world and he is passionate about his work & ne..

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                20 Great WordPress Premium Theme Providers of 2019

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              • Thumb fallout bwdr

                We are pleased to offer an excerpt from the latest edition of the online magazine, Bright Wall/Dark Room. Their latest issue discusses the best in film and television from 2018. In addition to Fran Hoepfner's piece below on "Mission: Impossible - Fallout" and "Free Solo," they also have new essays on "First Reformed," "Eighth Grade," "Annihilation," "Support the Girls," "Burning," "Cold War," "Mandy," "The Haunting of Hill House," "Schitt's Creek," "The Mule," "Jinn," "Disobedience," and more. 

                You can read our previous excerpts from the magazine by clicking here. To subscribe to Bright Wall/Dark Room, or look at their most recent essays, click here.


                There’s a fight scene in the first hour of Mission: Impossible — Fallout that takes place in a bathroom at an EDM party. I know, I know, you’re already sold. It was no doubt the highlight of the trailer, with an oft-gif’d moment of Henry Cavill’s Agent August Walker pumping his arms as if they were loaded guns (and who am I to say they’re not) before he punches a man in the face. It’s great, it’s comical. It’s the type of image you use to react to people on Twitter who say something wrong about a movie you like.

                What drew me in, what sold me, really, 100 percent, on Fallout occurs just moments later when Walker is half-unconscious on the bathroom floor, and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, a martyr, maybe, but we’ll get there), panting, looks up at the assassin who just clocked his associate. Hunt knowshe has to get up. He knows he has to take this guy down. He knows he has to finish the fight. But before he does it, he sighs and rolls his eyes. And not a blink-and-you-miss-it eyeroll, the type you sneak by your extended family during a long holiday meal. I’m talking a full 360 degrees eyeroll, baby. Isn’t that just the way it is sometimes? Or even most of the time? To get back up, to fight through it all, isn’t it the most annoying fucking thing in the world?

                “Your mission should you choose to accept it,” Walker sneers, throwing the conceit of the entire franchise back at Ethan. “Isn’t that the thing?” That is the thing. The impossible missions of the Mission Impossible franchise are entirely optional. At any given time, they—and Hunt, specifically, and his scrappy can-do attitude—can choose to not accept. And yet, with an eye roll, no less, he gets back up onto his feet and runs full-speed into the man who wants him dead.

                I have for several years now held onto a belief that every Tom Cruise movie is about death—the fear of, the desire for, the fight against. I say this not as a diehard Cruise fan (and truthfully, it feels almost entirely unethical to write about him in 2018) or even a Cruise completist, but where there’s smoke, there’s often fire. And even if not every Cruise vehicle aligns with my flippant theory, the Mission: Impossible franchise has certainly evolved to become more death-defying than ever before. Set against the Fast & Furious franchise—different, I know—and its increasing hyper-reliance on CGI for its stunts and locations, the Mission: Impossible movies and their penchant for making everything as real as it can be feel downright old school. And knowing that, it’s tough to watch Mission: Impossible — Fallout, and it’s even tougher to watch Cruise motorcycling sans helmet through the frantic roadways of Paris and not think, this guy is going to die making these movies.

                //

                I got into a bad habit this year where I became almost too reliant on the texting acronym “kms.” It stands for “kill myself.” Never did I use it to be anything but flippant. I promise it was never a threat. Rather it became an emotional crutch throughout what I’ll politely refer to as an emotional and turbulent year. There was some sort of creature comfort in responding to each subsequent blow by referring to all of it as “real kms hours.” It is hard to articulate what I mean by this, and I dedicated too much time throughout the year patiently telling those closest to me that this was just the way I communicated, and not indicative of any cry for help. For what it’s worth, most of my close friends seemed to hate this. It drove them insane, and I’m not proud of it. “Can you please not…say that?” they’d patiently ask. And I knew I shouldn’t. I knew it was bad. But what I meant, truly, any time I would respond to something with a tongue-in-cheek “kms” was not unlike the feeling of rolling one’s eyes before getting up and tackling a guy to the ground. There’s a death wish—embedded, floating, amorphous, invisible—but I’m gonna barrel on anyway.

                //

                Free Solo (2018) | National Geographic Documentary FilmsNational Geographic Documentary Films

                It is sort of impossible to talk about guys with death wishes in film in the year 2018 without talking about Free Solo. The rock climbing documentary, directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, centers around 31-year-old rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Apologies for all of the proper nouns. Free soloing, for those unfamiliar, as I was before I saw this documentary, is a lone ascent up a rock face with no ropes. To phrase it so formally feels like a disservice. The dude climbs up cliffs with nothing.

                //

                (Let me tell you a non-secret: Men are insane!)

                //

                The plot of Mission: Impossible — Fallout is both incoherent and deceptively straightforward. An attempt to procure three plutonium cores before they are sold to a terrorist organization called the Apostles is, easily put, botched. In lieu of letting his teammate Luther (Ving Rhames) die, Ethan Hunt lets these cores get into the hands of the Apostles. The rest of the film (where twists and turns abound, of course) is a mad dash across the globe to get these cores back so the Apostles don’t use them to make nuclear bombs. Simple enough, right? That Ethan let the bombs get into the hands of terrorists rather than lose a member of his team haunts him throughout the film, and this mistake (if you consider it one) pushes him to greater and greater heights—both physically and emotionally—to make up for what he’s done.

                Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), Hunt’s handler, as he sends Hunt on his mission, tells him: “Some flaw deep in your core being simply won’t allow you to choose between one life and millions. Now you see that as a sign of weakness. To me, that’s your greatest strength.” It’s said appraisingly of Hunt, but it doesn’t feel entirely accurate. Hunt is constantly choosing millions over the one life—the life in most cases just isn’t that of his teammates, but himself. The extent and frequency at which Hunt puts his life on the line is wildly irresponsible. Before you tell me that’s the premise of the franchise, trust me, I’m aware that’s the premise of the franchise. But in Fallout, the structure feels changed, altered. There’s a tragic undercurrent. He has to keep going. He’s not trying to die, but it’s also the job.

                //

                Mission: Impossible - Fallout | Paramount Pictures

                Jimmy Kimmel, in speaking to Henry Cavill on the press tour for the film said, “I was getting angry watching [Cruise] do these stunts in this movie because it seems just irresponsible at this point.” Moments later: “Is he nuts? Is he out of his mind? Does he have a death wish?”

                “You know what,” Cavill says, only half-certain (no matter what his jawline tricks you into thinking about his tone of voice), “you would assume so…”

                “Yes!”

                “But he doesn’t,” Cavill explains, before elaborating how good Cruise is at these stunts, which, if I’m being totally honest, seems entirely besides the point.

                //

                Free Solo is not, if you can believe me, “about” death; it’s about perfection. I know, I know: it’s easy to look at someone climbing up a cliff and decide they’re doing it because they want to die. Tommy Caldwell, Honnold’s friend and something of a mentor to him, explains: “Imagine an Olympic gold medal-level athletic achievement that if you don’t get that gold medal, you’re gonna die. That’s pretty much what free soloing El Cap is like. You have to do it perfectly.”

                Part of what makes Free Solo such a compelling watch is that it dives so thoroughly into Honnold’s training process for soloing El Cap. Day after day, he gets up onto the rock, practicing sequences (“pitches”) over and over again until they don’t seem quite as scary. Except, obviously, they’re still extremely scary. It’s still a 3,000-foot vertical ascent with no sense of security whatsoever. Honnold says to the camera, “[T]here’s a satisfaction in challenging yourself and doing something well. That feeling is heightened when you’re for sure facing death. You can’t make a mistake. If you’re seeking perfection, free soloing is as close as you can get. And it does feel good to feel perfect. Like for a brief moment.”

                //

                Maybe you know this, maybe you don’t: Tom Cruise broke his ankle filming Mission: Impossible — Fallout. The footage, or a fraction of it, makes it into the finished movie. Hunt is running along a series of rooftops in central London, leaping across alleyways with all of the grace of a big cat, until he misses the mark for one, slams his body against the edge of the wall. He eases himself up over the ledge and hobbles ahead on a shattered ankle. Hunt trucks along, as does Cruise. For a moment, they’re one and the same. A man determined, grimacing, pushing forward.

                //

                Free Solo (2018) | National Geographic Documentary Films

                I read tweets all the time that talk about the loose fascination we all seem to have with threatening to die or promising to die or saying we want to die. I’m generalizing. Your feed could be a lot brighter than mine. Regardless, it’s tough to not feel like we exist on the precipice of the apocalypse, if not already somewhat submerged in it. (If nothing else, the end of the world is fucking boring.) And to be flippant about death gives us, maybe, maybe!, a sense of control. Yet, I don’t think the political/economical/environmental circumstances are the same as flattening the language we use around death these days. I’m forced to quote Honnold in Free Solo and echo: “Look, I don’t want to fall off and die either.” We don’t joke about this because we want it, really. He doesn’t. I don’t. It’s just that it feels so unavoidable that there are fewer and fewer ways to react. The inevitability of death feels unavoidable and unfair and helpless and horrible, so why not come face to face with it? Even for a second?

                //

                Walker punches Ethan Hunt in the face. “Why won’t you just die?” he spits.

                //

                I have done about as much as I can do this year to not take care of myself. I mean this more emotionally than physically. Well, physically too. It was the year of no sleep or too much sleep, no food or too much food. I thought giving up an air conditioner would be a sign of physical strength, and I wound up with a heat rash. And in a recklessness that I can only describe as “theoretically romantic yet profoundly irresponsible,” I only escalated this harmfulness in my personal life. I sent the one in the morning text. A few too many of them, to be honest. I dug up the bodies of relationships long gone and buried for good reason. No one I haven’t spoken to in three years should be able to make me cry, and yet—. It was the first year I can recall knowing there are people who no longer want to be in the same room as me. To appease my loneliness, I scrounged my past in search of answers. There will be clues, I figured, easter eggs, for why things were the way they were. Why I am the way I am. In the heat and humidity of my un-air-conditioned bedroom, I wondered if I had always been so doomed?

                I told a friend about something stupid I wanted to do, something I thought would be “good,” in scare-quotes, because I really meant bad, and they said, “that would be compelling if you hadn’t already done that this year.” Another go on El Cap. Another entry in the franchise. These things do get repetitive sometimes.

                //

                The truly harrowing footage in Free Solo—and this is a bold claim to make about a movie that centers around a man alone on a cliff without a rope—are the interviews with those closest to Honnold trying their best to make sense of his drive to solo El Cap. Or solo, in general. His mother, his girlfriend, even the production crew for the film itself. Jimmy Chin, the director, explains as evenhandedly as one can, “It’s hard to not imagine your friend Alex soloing something that’s extremely dangerous and you’re making a film about it which might put undue pressure on him to do something,” and here, Chin’s hand simply lowers, “and him falling through the frame.”

                The weight of gravity haunts the film, a spectre. An inevitability. Mikey Schaefer, a climber and cameraperson on Free Solo, spends the majority of Honnold’s climb with his back to the camera and his hands over his eyes. I was able to stomach the film without looking away, but I felt all the liquid in my body sweat out through my palms. Walking out of the theater, a friend (a different one, I have at least two friends) turned to me and said, “We’re gonna live to see Alex Honnold die, aren’t we?”

                //

                Mission: Impossible - Fallout | Paramount Pictures

                Tom Cruise laughs at the footage of his ankle breaking on Graham Norton as Simon Pegg looks away in fear and disgust. Look, he’s insane! Cruise, I mean. I know it! You know it! The movie is still good! Watching Cruise by which I mean Hunt but I really mean Cruise get up onto that broken ankle and run across London was exhilarating. Thrilling. In the theater, I remember laughing. It’s ridiculous, this impulse. I can’t think of another way to face it.

                Later in Fallout, as Hunt mans a helicopter—a vehicle this character is not known to know how to pilot, and that Cruise learned how to fly in order to make this film—art imitates life: Benji (Simon Pegg) tells Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), “I find it best not to look.”

                //

                It does not seem like a coincidence to me that men get the luxury of hurtling towards death with an unrelenting eagerness. Honnold’s girlfriend, Sanni McCandless, confronts him about his intent to solo El Capitan without telling her first.

                “I want to have this more holistic approach,” McCandless says, “like you have where you’re like, ‘we’re all gonna die, might as well do what we want while we’re here and it’s okay when people die,’ but I feel like I want you to meet me halfway, and when you solo to take me into the equation.” Moments later she adds: “Would putting me into the equation actually ever change anything? Would you actually make decisions differently?”

                “If I had some kind of obligation to maximize my lifespan, then yeah, obviously I would have to give up soloing,” Honnold tells her.

                “Is me asking you—do you see that as an obligation?”

                “Uh, no. No.” He’s confident. Certain. This is what remains so remarkable about Honnold. His steadfast commitment to risk and perfection. To placate McCandless he adds: “But I appreciate your concerns and I respect that, but I in no way feel obligated, no.”

                “To maximize…your lifetime…?” she specifies.

                “No,” he repeats.

                //

                What makes Fallout and Free Solo what they are is not death. It’s the spectatorship of death. It’s watching those around a person come to terms with what we all know is out there. Say what you will about Cruise, but we don’t want to see Ethan Hunt die. We want to see him succeed, we want him to achieve perfection. Mission accomplished, etc. And Honnold, too, is humanized in Free Solo. Easy, as I did earlier, to chalk him up to being a psychopath, but like so many other things, it’s much more complicated than that. “If I perish, it doesn’t matter, that’s not that big a deal,” he says. But Free Solo proves otherwise. It would be a big deal. It would ripple throughout the lives of his family, his friends, his charity work, the world.

                Hunt, too, does not throw himself at assassins in French bathrooms for the hell of it. It’s so the world can keep spinning. The sun rises on Ethan Hunt and his teammates in a valley in Kashmir. “How close were we?” Benji asks. Hunt shrugs. “The usual.” Then he laughs.

                Honnold too, reflects on his proximity to death, shifts uncomfortably. “Maybe that’s a little too callous,” he murmurs, looking away.

                I type “kms” then delete it quickly. “Haha, sucks,” I write instead. Is this profound? I have no idea. Together, sometimes, even briefly, we soften.




                Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/balder-and-dash/bright-walldark-room-january-2019-the-year-of-the-death-wish-by-fran-hoepfner
                By: The Editors
                Posted: January 15, 2019, 3:22 pm

              • Thumb astarisborn

                “When all the world is a hopeless jumble,
                And the raindrops tumble all around,
                Heaven opens a magic lane.
                When all the clouds darken up the skyway,
                There's a rainbow highway to be found…”

                This prelude to Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg’s ageless ballad, “Over the Rainbow,” unused in “The Wizard of Oz,” is sung by Ally (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, a.k.a. Lady Gaga) near the beginning of Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born.” As she walks down an alley, still dressed in her waitress uniform, the film’s title materializes in big red letters, harkening back to the ruby hue of the words when they accompanied George Cukor’s 1954 version of the film, starring Dorothy herself, Judy Garland. Cooper’s picture is, in fact, the fifth screen version of the story, and just might rank second only to the indelible Garland vehicle, thanks in no small part to how it both channels and reinvents various elements of Cukor’s masterwork. 

                Garland and Gaga were both 32 when their respective “Star Is Born” films received an October release in theaters, and the actresses each sought to have the coveted titular role launch—or in Garland’s case, relaunch—their career as a major movie star. Yet what now stands as the crowning achievement of Garland’s legacy ironically marked the end of her career as a marquee name in Hollywood. The pangs of longing that characterize her two most memorable numbers in cinema, “Over the Rainbow” and “The Man That Got Away,” mirror the loss that she endured throughout her life. During a Q&A at the 1967 Chicago International Film Festival, attended by Roger Ebert, Cukor noted, “People who aren't complicated in real life come through as pretty bland on the screen. Most great performers are not very happy and well adjusted. Perhaps that's the price they pay for being originals.”

                According to the illuminating book released last fall, A Star Is Born: Judy Garland and the Film that Got Away, coauthored by Garland’s daughter, Lorna Luft, along with Jeffrey Vance, the actress connected deeply to the script because of her own unresolved relationship with her father, who died when she was a teenager, as well as the father figure she found in her husband, Sid Luft, who produced the film. Garland plays Esther Blodgett, a singer unaware of her star power until she is discovered by Norman Maine (James Mason), a well-known film actor with an unslakable thirst for alcohol. Her transformation from Blodgett to her studio-assigned persona as Vicki Lester is not all that far removed from Garland’s own transition to celebrity, when she cast off the less-appealing name of Francis Gumm (vaudeville star George Jessel joked that it sounded like “Glum”). Just as the romance that blossomed between Lester and Maine was doomed for tragedy due to addiction, so was Garland’s marriage to Sid, as he gave into his compulsion for gambling.

                The baggage Garland brought to the project was dubbed in Luft and Vance’s book as “a fragile constitution, dependency on prescription medication, habits of lateness and volatility, and unmanaged manic depression.” How poignant that the very symptoms contributing to the multiple delays that plagued Cukor’s film stemmed directly from a drug regiment enforced by MGM head Louis B. Mayer. Believing his new contract player to be too overweight, Mayer had studio doctors prescribe Garland Benzedrine combined with a phenobarbital to suppress her appetite while doubling her energy. 

                Paved with self-serving intentions, this erratic brick road led directly to Garland’s untimely death at age 47 of a barbiturate overdose—whether or not it was accidental is beside the point. The actress’s most notorious alleged suicide attempt occurred after MGM suspended her contract, following the repeated delays she caused for 1950’s “Summer Stock,” featuring her iconic song, “Get Happy,” that resulted in the studio losing money. The “slashed throat” sensationalized by the press was an easily remedied cut on her neck that freed Garland from Mayer’s studio, providing her with the necessary space to prepare for the greatest work of her career.

                It was Cukor, of course, who must be credited with the earliest and least known iteration of “A Star Is Born,” which also happened to be his first significant directorial effort. 1932’s “What Price Hollywood” centers on waitress Mary Evans (Constance Bennett, Cary Grant’s fellow ghost in “Topper”), a most determined heroine with a Hollywood-ready name who makes a deliberate impression on drunkard director, Max Carey (owl-eyed Lowell Sherman), while playing hard-to-get with Lonny (Neil Hamilton), the boorish man who lusts after her. It’s interesting how the Oscar-nominated screenplay, based on a story by Adela Rogers St. Johns, splits the father figure and lover later embodied by Norman Maine into two, culminating in Mary’s happy reunion with Lonny after Max’s death. We’re not exactly rooting for the pair to be together, since their first date consisted of Lonny smashing in her glass door, dragging her to his house and force-feeding her caviar. 

                William A. Wellman’s unofficial remake from 1937, the first to carry the title, “A Star Is Born,” is an improvement in many respects, providing the outline for Cukor’s version released 17 years later. Though Moss Hart rewrote the first half of the 1937 screenplay (which oddly earned the Oscar for Original Story), many stretches in the second act of the 1954 picture are nearly word-for-word replicas. It’s easy to overlook that fact, however, since the peerless cast assembled by Cukor revitalize their lines with newfound life. One sentimental character from the 1937 film who never shows up in subsequent versions is Esther’s grandmother, who likens the young woman’s dreams of stardom with the settlers who conquered the American wilderness, elevating her granddaughter’s journey to mythological proportions. In contrast, Cukor’s remake feels bracingly modern in its visceral portrayal of studio-bred dysphoria, signified at the beginning by the Lynchian buzzing of floodlights and a Scorsese-esque use of epilepsy-inducing flashbulbs. 

                Just as the 1954 “Star Is Born” is better than its 1937 predecessor, Cooper’s 2018 awards contender is a superior version of Frank Pierson’s 1976 remake (both were produced by Jon Peters), starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. This was the first picture to take the story out of Hollywood and place it in the music industry. Gaga’s Ally is as much a nod to Steisand’s Esther Hoffman as she is to Garland’s Blodgett/Lester. Cooper’s pill-popping rock star Jackson Maine speaks in a gravely voice evocative of Kristofferson’s troubled rocker John Norman Howard—two heartrending alpha male characters whose eyes well up long before their female counterparts break down. Streisand sought to break traditional gender roles by having Esther wear men’s suits, make the first move by proposing marriage and inject the previously sexless yarn with frank if forced eroticism. “I believe there’s a best of both worlds, mixing old and new,” sings Esther, thereby justifying the purpose of a remake, as does Jackson’s long-suffering sibling, Bobby (Sam Elliott), when he recalls how his brother believed that music was “essentially 12 notes between any octave. 12 notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes.”

                It’s only appropriate that Gaga is planning to portray Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl” on Broadway, since that not only happens to be Streisand’s debut film role—the one that made her tie with Katharine Hepburn for Best Actress—but it also highly informed Streisand’s approach to “Star Is Born,” with its similarly bittersweet love story. The final long take on Esther’s face as she performs onstage ends in a freeze frame that aims to burn her visage into the viewer’s minds, just as the last shot of Cooper’s film does, and the finale of “Funny Girl,” for that matter. John makes a failed early attempt at having Esther join him onstage, easing her nerves with the promise of “Trust me,” yet in Cooper’s version, Ally goes through with it, allowing her duet with Jackson to be the moment they fall in love. 

                Like Streisand and Pierson did, Cooper surrounds himself in the picture with real industry figures and close collaborators. During a conversation with Oliver Platt after the film’s Chicago premiere, Cooper said he was inspired by Elia Kazan’s line, “I don’t audition actors, I take them for a walk around the block.” His focus on direction enabled him to deliver his most intuitive performance to date, while his collaboration with Derek Cianfrance on “The Place Beyond the Pines” inspired him to utilize immersive long takes, keeping the camera onstage during concert sequences.  

                When it comes to the actual star-making talent displayed by the heroines in the many “Star Is Born” versions, the degree of their skill varies conspicuously. We see little of Mary’s abilities in “What Price Hollywood,” apart from her on-camera performance of “Parlez-moi d’amour,” a more understated precursor to Ally making her grand entrance with “La Vie En Rose.” Yet for her initial audition, Mary works tirelessly at nailing her scripted bit of business, rehearsing well into the night. All we get in the 1937 Wellman film are a few celebrity impressions delivered by waitress Esther (Janet Gaynor), which are unseen by Norman (Frederic March) at the party where she is supposedly discovered. The most potent emotional peaks of Cukor’s remake are abbreviated here, serving as a blueprint bereft of the full picture. 

                Whereas Garland sang along to prerecorded tracks, as per studio tradition, Streisand insisted on singing live, a technique shared by Gaga and Cooper. What torpedoes the dramatic impact of the 1976 film is Streisand’s own ego, which removes any trace of Esther’s vulnerability, leaving her with no tangible arc—she’s essentially a star from the get-go. By stripping herself physically and emotionally of her pop star persona, Gaga succeeds in making the audience feel a sense of discovery when Ally steps into the spotlight. In many ways, this performance is the fulfillment of Gaga’s own anthem of personal empowerment, “Born This Way.”

                From the very beginning, “A Star Is Born” carried echoes of Garland, as if foreshadowing her eventual film that would top them all. Cukor wanted to direct Garland ever since he saw her sing “Happy Birthday” to Ethel Barrymore at his home, just as Cooper got the idea to cast Gaga when he witnessed her performance of “La Vie En Rose” at a charity benefit. The opening scene of Cukor’s “What Price Hollywood,” where Mary flirts with a picture of Clark Gable, is mirrored by Garland’s second feature film appearance in “Broadway Melody of 1938,” where she sings “You Made Me Love You” to her own snapshot of Gable (embedded above). 

                Clara Blandick, who went on to receive cinematic immortality as Auntie Em in “The Wizard of Oz,” plays the disapproving aunt of Gaynor’s Esther in Wellman’s “Star Is Born,” discouraging her niece from her technicolor dreams in Tinseltown (and when she finally arrives there, the colors pop just like they do in Oz). Three years after donning Dorothy’s pigtails, Garland acted in a Lux Radio Theatre non-musical production of “Star Is Born” opposite Walter Pidgeon, and two decades later, would invite Streisand as a guest on her television show. When the 1976 “Star Is Born” was originally pitched by James Taylor and Carly Simon, it was called “Rainbow Road,” a title echoing the aforementioned prelude to “Over the Rainbow.”

                What makes this story such a valuable one to retell every generation or so is its timeless exploration of a dehumanizing business designed to exploit talent, enable addictions and snuff out those that may endanger its profits. Looked at all together, these five films serve as “evergreen” time capsules, to borrow the name of Streisand’s Oscar-winning tune she sings masterfully in one unbroken take while flirting with Kristofferson (Gaga will likely win the same Oscar for “Shallow”). Even in 1932, the idea of a director meeting a woman and wanting to put her in pictures is dismissed as “the same old story.” Wellman’s clever choice to bookend his film with pages of the script accentuate the preordained nature of the piece. 

                Binding all these versions together is a single line of dialogue that serves as the older man’s farewell to his young discovery. In “What Price Hollywood,” it is uttered only once, when Max calls out to Mary, only to reply, “I just wanted to hear you speak again, that’s all.” In the subsequent remakes, the line became a request for Norman to take “one more look” at Esther. This exchange occurs earlier in the film so that its delivery toward the end will have more emotional heft. In the 1976 film, the song, “With One More Look at You,” coauthored by Paul Williams, pays homage to this line, intertwining it with John’s signature tune, “Watch Closely Now.”

                As for the suicide sequence that typically follows this line, it is handled more or less identically in the 1937 and 1954 versions, with Norman walking into the ocean, though Cukor’s film makes it all the more chilling by accompanying his death with Garland’s tender rendition of “It’s a New World.” Only two years after “Singin’ in the Rain” opened in theaters, Mason’s self-inflicted demise provides a stark contrast with Gene Kelly’s rebellious splashing through puddles, conveying his refusal to let the changing conditions—both in the weather and the film industry—dampen his spirits. In the case of “Star Is Born,” the tides of change cannot be combated by our hero, he can only be engulfed by them (Mason also references the Kelly film by claiming he’s “fit as a fiddle and ready for love”). 

                Yet the suicide of Max in “What Price Hollywood” (embedded above) is even more memorable, preceding the fatal gunshot with images of the man’s life flashing before his eyes, a brilliant visual flourish for 1932. After Kristofferson drives recklessly into oblivion while listening to his wife on the radio, Streisand has her most genuinely touching scene when she encounters his lifeless body, clinging to it as if he were still alive. Cooper’s limply hanging corpse can barely be glimpsed through the window of his garage, and his fate is foreshadowed with equal subtlety after his very first performance in the film, when images of nooses appear on a billboard outside the window of his limo.

                Driving the man to his death isn’t just his addiction, but the forces in his industry and the greater society that fail to treat him as a human being. In 1932, the scariest antagonist is the public itself, which attacks Mary after her wedding, tearing at her clothing with the zeal of ravenous zombies. No wonder Esther and Norman opted for a private ceremony in the 1937 and 1954 versions, much to the chagrin of Libby, a press agent who emerges as the chief villain of the story. He has everything to gain from Norman’s death, viewing Esther as the studio’s “hottest piece of property” that must be protected at all costs. His contemptuous treatment of Norman is a blatant attempt to drive the damaged man over the edge. 

                In these two films, the veil-ripping scene was moved to Norman’s funeral, intensifying the brutality of the mob’s violation. The 1976 remake splits the villain in two, arising as an assistant (Gary Busey) who shoves drugs into Kristofferson’s nostrils, and a vile DJ (M.G. Kelly), who provokes fights with the rocker, only to praise him once his life has expired. Cooper’s film offers its own spin on the Libby archetype with Ally’s manager, Rez (Rafi Gavron), an insufferable jerk responsible for Jackson’s final deterioration by convincing the broken addict that he has no future with his wife. Much funnier is the pre-Hedda Hopper gossip columnist in “What Price Hollywood” tasked with asking cheerfully invasive questions of Mary and Lonny. When she requests a photo of his sculpted physique, he offers her his appendix in a jar before storming out of the room (“Has he gone to get it?” she asks).

                Cukor’s version of “A Star is Born” still proves impossible to equal primarily because of Garland herself, whose performance is one of the greatest ever committed to celluloid. Whereas the 1976 and 2018 remakes culminate in a cathartic musical number, this film offers no such release, making the sense of loss all the more palpable. Aside from her refrain of “It’s a New World,” sung off-camera, Vicki Lester’s last song in the film takes place at the top of the final act: Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin’s “Lose That Long Face.” It’s an exuberantly high-spirited number, with Garland performing in a hairdo resembling that of her daughter, Liza Minnelli, in later years. When the director yells cut, Lester retreats to her makeup trailer and delivers a searing monologue unmatched by any sequence in every other iteration of the story. 

                Still clad in theatrical makeup, Lester’s larger-than-life persona dissolves entirely as she speaks candidly with studio head Oliver (Charles Bickford). “You don’t know what it’s like to watch somebody you love just crumble away, bit by bit, day by day, in front of your eyes and stand there helpless,” Lester cries, echoing the feelings of Garland’s countless admirers. “Love isn't enough for him. And I'm afraid of what's beginning to happen within me because...sometimes I hate him. I hate his promises to stop and then the watching and waiting to see it begin again. I hate to go home to him at night and listen to his lies. My heart goes out to him because he tries—he does try. But I hate him for failing. And I hate me, too. I hate me cause I've failed, too. I have. I don't know what's going to happen to us, Oliver. No matter how much you love somebody...how do you live out the days?”

                Laying her soul bare, Garland articulates the plight of a caregiver and an addict with such raw agony that it transcends the art form of acting and registers on a level that is inescapably real. “Moss Hart understood when he wrote that sequence that Mama was both Norman Maine and Vicki Lester, that she would be speaking of her own failures and drug dependency,” writes Luft in her book. “Mama was making a movie about addiction, but the characters were reversed.” Wiping away her tears, Lester hurries out the door, hits her mark and belts out the final lines of “Lose That Long Face,” all the while maintaining a beaming expression. Garland’s entire life is encapsulated in this sequence—the endless days of cheering strangers while harboring private pain—and it remains one of the most powerful stretches of cinema ever conceived. 

                It also echoes how Cooper attempted to “capture fame sonically” in his film, cutting from loudness to nothingness and back again. Another story from the production recounted by Luft occurred during the filming of Lester’s shattering breakdown. “You really scared the hell out of me,” Cukor exclaimed, to which Garland quipped, “Oh, that’s nothing. Come over to my house. I do it every afternoon—but I only do it once at home.” This exchange was later incorporated into Roger Allan Ackerman’s excellent 2001 television adaptation of Luft’s memoir, Me and My Shadows, starring Judy Davis in an astonishing performance worthy of Garland herself. The best sequence re-stages her Carnegie Hall concert, an event Ackerman was present for, where the overture fittingly joins “The Man That Got Away” with “Over the Rainbow.”

                Hollywood’s history of awarding itself would naturally make Cukor’s “A Star Is Born” appear to be a shoo-in for a full-on sweep at the Academy Awards. After all, the organization’s own accolade has always been featured prominently in the plot, even back when it was referred to as an “Academy medal” in “What Price Hollywood.” Wellman certainly knew a thing or two about Oscars, considering his 1927 film “Wings” was the first to win Best Picture, while Gaynor was the first performer to be named Best Actress. Had Garland won the award for “Star Is Born,” it would’ve served as the ultimate validation from an industry for which she had sacrificed so much. After all, as the Best Actor winner in the film notes, winning an Oscar “is an ample reward for an entire career.” 

                It’s one of the great ironies of Garland’s life that she could hold an adult-sized Oscar—unlike the juvenile miniature she was presented for “Wizard of Oz”—only after the Academy loaned one out to Cukor, as detailed in the opening credits. Though the 1954 “A Star Is Born” earned six Oscar nominations, it was nowhere to be found in multiple critical categories, namely Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Not only did Garland lose to Grace Kelly for “The Country Girl” (who also played the wife of an alcoholic actor), but “The Man That Got Away” lost in the Best Original Song category to “Three Coins in a Fountain,” the forgotten tune Steve Martin gets ridiculed for singing in “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.” The fact “Star Is Born” left the 1955 Oscar ceremony empty-handed registered as a slap in the face to Garland, and unlike the one accidentally administered by Norman Maine, it was not at all backhanded.

                The rapturous response that the film earned at its splashy Los Angeles premiere was a mirage of “La La Land” proportions. It promised what ultimately couldn’t be delivered, a major comeback fueled by awards season glory. Despite the acclaim earned by Cukor’s 181-minute version of the film, Harry Warner insisted that the picture be cut by a half-hour, arguing that it was too long—after all, it was the most expensive movie shot in Hollywood, yet the rerelease of “Gone With the Wind” was still raking in big money at the box office. Without the consultation of Cukor, Warner senselessly chopped the picture down to 154 minutes, rendering the story incoherent while removing many of the best scenes, such as the recording session for “Here’s What I’m Here For” followed by Norman’s marriage proposal, and most criminal of all, the “Lose That Long Face” number. 

                Since Warner didn’t bother retaining a single print of the original cut, Ronald Haver’s 1983 restoration was forced to juxtapose film stills with surviving audio in order to recreate the 20 minutes of footage that were permanently lost. Though these sequences are initially jarring, they enhance the narrative immeasurably, while lending new layers of depth to Esther and Norman’s relationship. The amusing bit where a woman lashes out at Norman after he refuses to pose for a picture is evocative of a similar moment in Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” when one of Jerry Lewis’ disgruntled fans shouts, “I hope you get cancer!” Garland never lived to see this improved version, having passed away in 1969, and Cukor died just two days prior to his scheduled screening of the restoration.

                If Cooper’s film proves anything, it’s that the story of “A Star Is Born” will eternally be worth “one more look,” though no successful remake can exist without being at least somewhat indebted to Cukor’s version. Gaga is an ideal choice to follow in Garland’s footsteps, in part because both women are icons of the LGBT community. The Stonewall uprising that occurred a day after Garland’s funeral in New York City may likely have inspired Gilbert Baker to select Dorothy’s cherished rainbow as the defining symbol of his gay pride flag. Few singers have ever tackled the difficulty of living one’s dreams with as much resonance as Garland, a theme that continues to connect with anyone shamed out of being with the one they love. 

                Garland’s conviction to sing “The Man That Got Away” with operatic passion led vocal arranger Hugh Martin to bolt from the set, but she was entirely correct in her choice, knowing fully well that this number foreshadowed the turbulent emotion she would later deliver sans music in the makeup trailer. The songs in Cooper’s picture drive the narrative just as much as they do in Cukor’s version, with “La Vie En Rose” serving the same function as “The Man That Got Away” by wowing Maine (and the audience) with the singer’s stunning talent. When Cooper first meets Gaga backstage and offers to help take off her false eyebrows, the moment is an homage to perhaps the most meaningful scene of all in the 1954 film.

                Ally’s self-consciousness about the size of her nose reminds us of the humiliating studio examination endured by Lester, who is informed that her “nose is the problem.” After she was hired by MGM, rubber discs were inserted into Garland’s nose in order for it to be reshaped so that she could be deemed camera-ready. Art continues to imitate life in the Cukor film, when Maine finds Lester post-makeover, caked in makeup and decked out in a ridiculous blonde wig. He insists that she remove all trace of artifice from her features before gazing at her reflection in the mirror. This is the greatest gift that Maine bestows to her—the realization that her beauty shines through only when she’s true to herself. To paraphrase Gaga’s most popular song from the 2018 film, she’s far from the shallow now. 

                Lester goes on to win over audiences in her first major screen role represented by the “Born in a Trunk” medley, a show-stopping sequence similar to “Broadway Melody” in “Singin’ in the Rain,” yet far more tied to the central narrative. It gives Lester and Garland the opportunity to weave aspects of their own backstories into their artistry, proving that the more personal one’s work is, the more it is bound to connect with others. Gaga believes that Ally doesn’t truly become a star until the last frame of the film, after she reclaims her identity by ceasing to dye her brown hair red (her manager originally suggested “platinum”). Would Garland have ever become a star had Cukor encouraged her on the “Wizard of Oz” set to do away with the blonde wig she was ordered to wear during screen tests? Why bother altering what was already sublime? Baby, she was born this way. 

                Lorna Luft and Jeffrey Vance’s book, A Star Is Born: Judy Garland and the Film that Got Away, is available for purchase on Amazon, as is the Blu-ray edition of George Cukor’s restored “A Star Is Born.”




                Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/balder-and-dash/born-this-way-why-1954s-a-star-is-born-is-still-the-best
                By: Matt Fagerholm
                Posted: January 15, 2019, 3:23 pm

              • Thumb goosebumps interview

                R.L. Stine is the author of "Goosebumps," a series of books second only to Harry Potter in ubiquitousness, with over 400 million sold around the world. Stine has seen his scary-but-not-too-scary stories for tweens turned into a television series, a theme park attraction, board games and merchandise ranging from fake blood to glow-in-the-dark boxer shorts, and now a second film, “Goosebumps: Haunted Halloween.” 

                In an interview with RogerEbert.com, he talked about the inspiration for his most popular recurring character, a 1948 British film, the scene in the movie we both agreed was the highlight, and about the connection between horror and humor.

                In the movie, there are characters we might think of as traditional monsters like ghosts, or inherently scary like the giant purple spider, and characters that are ordinary or adorable but become scary, like the gummy bears. What’s scarier?

                I’d always go for adorable. I’d go for ordinary and adorable. That’s my favorite scene in the movie. 

                Mine, too!

                I love that idea. I just love it. Who would think you could take gummy bears and turn them into monsters!  

                Apparently you would.

                Oh, no, somebody wrote that for the movie. It wasn’t me. But I love that idea. You don’t start with monsters and weirdness and a castle in medieval Europe. You always start in the kids’ back yard or in the basement, or on the kitchen table. It’s much scarier to kids if it is something they can see and relate to and it starts right in their own house. That’s why I’ve never set a Goosebumps book in New York City.  Because most kids can’t really picture New York City. I try to keep everything ordinary.

                The idea of a Goosebumps story set in Halloween is almost too perfect.

                They wanted to do a Halloween movie. We’ve done haunted mask, haunted jack o’lanterns, we’ve done haunted costumes. So why not do everything! Why not have all of all of Halloween just explode!

                image

                Who is more scared, the children who read your books or the children characters in the books?

                Oh, the children in the books are much more scared! The books are not really that scary. They’re much more of a tease, and also they are funny. I don’t think the readers are that scared but the kids in the book have horrible terrifying things to worry about and the parents are useless, so the kids are on their own. They’re not there or they don’t believe the kids, so the kids have to solve things on their own.

                I read that your wife is your editor.

                Yes, I am married to my editor. For real. She is actually paid to be my editor. It’s a nightmare! The only things we ever fight about are plots. I always say, “Jane, the next book will make sense.” But I don’t get away with that.

                Who is right more often?

                I’ve never been right. It’s true. We’ve been married over 40 years and I’ve never won a bet.

                You’ve said that humor and horror are related. How is that?

                It’s the same visceral reaction. When you sneak up behind someone and you go, “Boo!” first they gasp, and then they laugh. It’s like two sides of the same reaction. I use humor a lot. And I never really wanted to be scary. I never planned on being the scary guy. I always wanted to be funny. And so I use the humor to balance it out. If I think a scene is getting too scary, I throw in something funny.

                image

                This movie features your most popular recurring character, Slappy the ventriloquist’s dummy who comes alive. He reminds me of the scene in the 1947 British horror film, “Dead of Night.”

                You’re the first person who ever asked me about that movie and that is where the idea of Slappy came from. I saw that dummy come to life and that just stayed with me. And then there was a "Twilight Zone" episode and the William Goldman book and movie, “Magic.” The reaction came as a surprise to me. People write to me, “I’m scared of dolls, now,” and I don’t really get it. Why be scared of a doll? But I’ve done 14 books about him and I’m working on one now called The Dummy Meets the Mummy.

                I understand that you are an opera fan.

                Yes, I’m going to the opera tonight, to see “Otello.” I know my readers think I’m only interested in horror. But I live in New York City! I go to the ballet! They’re horrified to hear that!  

                I think they like to imagine you living in a creepy gothic mansion, eating scorpions.

                Oh, I do that! 




                Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/rl-stine-on-goosebumps-haunted-halloween-the-connection-between-humor-and-horror-and-more
                By: Nell Minow
                Posted: January 15, 2019, 3:23 pm