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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

OT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (December 2018)

The deep lesson of Star Wars is that the Empire is good.

It’s a difficult leap to make—embracing Darth Vader and the Emperor over the plucky and attractive Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia—but a careful examination of the facts, sorted apart from Lucas’s off-the-shelf moral cues, makes a quite convincing case.


Friday, November 02, 2018

OT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (November 2018)

Before she arrived on the Vancouver set of Deadpool 2 in mid-August 2017, Joi Harris had never performed a stunt. She’d never been anywhere near a movie or TV set, for that matter. Producers and studio 20th Century Fox wanted an African-American double for Zazie Beetz, who’d been cast in the role of Domino. They hired Harris, 40, who had done some motorcycle racing, and flew her in a couple of days before the shoot. The sequence was pretty straightforward. It called for a rider, sitting astride a powerful Ducati 939 Hyperstrada motorcycle, to coast down a set of planks that had been laid over a few stairs. Harris would be traveling about 5 miles an hour, though onscreen it would be made to look as if she were going much faster.

As the day approached, several experienced stunt performers who had been training Harris all weekend say they told producers and the stunt coordinator they believed Harris wasn’t ready. They warned the production that racing on a track was very different from performing in front of cameras and an audience. Producers stuck to the plan. Canada’s workplace safety agency, WorkSafeBC, hasn’t released its final report on what happened next, but three people familiar with that day’s shoot say they watched in horror as Harris, on the first live take, lost control of the bike. She hung on as it sped across a street at high speed before hitting a planter, which sent her hurtling headfirst through a plate glass window. She wasn’t wearing a helmet. It was 9:30 in the morning, and her very first stunt would also be her last.


Monday, October 01, 2018

Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (October 2018)

Over the past eight months EW has stalked [Jamie Lee] Curtis and the rest of the Halloween crew — though hopefully in a much less threatening manner than Michael Myers tracks Laurie Strode. The result is a story which includes interviews with Curtis, [David Gordon] Green, [Danny] McBride, [John] Carpenter, and Nick Castle, who once again makes an appearance as Myers in the new film, 40 years after playing the slasher icon in the original movie.


Saturday, September 01, 2018

OT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (September 2018)

The new TV season is upon us.

[H]ere is Deadline’s annual rundown of fall premiere dates for new and returning series. The list covers hundreds of broadcast, cable and streaming shows bowing between September 1 and December 31 and some high-profile one-off programs.


Wednesday, August 01, 2018

OT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (August 2018)

After watching the pilot episode of “Deadwood,” I got up, lowered the blinds, dimmed the lights and burned through the rest of the DVD in a fugue of wonder and excitement. I didn’t leave the series until the next day, staggering limply into the harsh sunlight like Ray Milland in “The Lost Weekend.”

It was 2004, and I had been the chief television critic at The New York Times for about a year. HBO had sent me advance screeners of its new western. And I was discovering binge watching.

There are dramas that are arguably better or more widely appreciated than “Deadwood”: “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” or “Breaking Bad.”  But of all the shows I have reviewed over the past 12 years, “Deadwood” is the one I would most like to see again for the first time.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

OT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (let’s call it July 2018)

With so much time spent fostering garbage takes on food, perhaps many of you missed Tom Breihan’s “A History of Violence” series, which kicked off in 2016 with a celebration of Bullitt:

When you talk about the history of action movies, you sort of have to define what an action movie is first. As with any movie genre, lines blur, and movies can be multiple things at once. Action—fights, chases, bodies forced into extreme circumstances—has been a part of narrative cinema since narrative cinema became a thing. If you wanted to be ultra-pedantic, you could say that the 1903 silent film The Great Train Robbery was the first action movie, though it would take a whole lot of work to draw a historical line between that and John Wick.

For the purposes of this column, action movies didn’t arrive in their modern and fully-formed state until the late ’60s. There were other genres of movies that supplied the kinds of thrills that action movies would later provide: Westerns, war movies, crime thrillers. (All those genres will appear, in hybridized forms, in this column later on. We’re also going to stay away from things like superhero movies, sci-fi, fantasy, and Oscar bait, except in the rare instances when those genres cross over fully with the action genre.) And there were movies that could be considered proto-action movies: John Sturges’ 1955 Bad Day At Black Rock, Hitchcock’s 1959 North By Northwest, all the early movies in the Bond series.

I should also add that the whole goal of this column is to pick the most important action movie of every year, not necessarily the best or most beloved. (Most of the time, though, it probably will be the best or most beloved action movie of its year, partly because bullshit usually doesn’t leave that deep of an impact and partly because I have no desire to rewatch a bunch of bullshit.)

 


 

 

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