Dr. Strangelove

peter-sellers-pink-panther

We all have one or two — filmmakers and actors who we just can’t get behind no matter how much acclaim they receive. Sometimes it’s just a matter of taste. You either love Wes Anderson’s style or you don’t. You either enjoy Tom Cruise’s charisma or you don’t. Other times it’s actually a matter of objective criticism, a certainty that the person is no good, and that’s the kind that can be very difficult to admit if most of the intelligent world considers the director or performer to be a genius. That’s also the kind of argument that can upset friendships, as I’ve known one critic to confess of regarding his stance on Stanley Kubrick — a stance he is not yet brave enough to put onto a public forum. After all, commenters can be so cruel. So can academic peers. My confession for today is relevant to the Kubrick one. I want to admit that I don’t like Peter Sellers. I never have. But it’s not enough anymore to admit that as a matter of opinion. I now believe that Sellers was in fact not a good actor, nor a good comedian. That’s not to say he wasn’t funny. He makes people laugh, so that’s irrefutable. Sense of humor is one thing, though, and talent is another. I can’t say that I’ve seen everything he was in, but how comprehensive a study must I make to find the exception? I’ve given him a chance over and over. I watched […]

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peter-sellers-as-dr-strangelove

It was released 50 years ago this week, but as Dr. Strangelove‘s cryptic closing ditty promised, we do indeed meet again. Stanley Krubick‘s 1964 Cold War satire has reached the half-century mark, and for this writer and many others it remains a constantly-revisited favorite cinematic exercise in Kubrick’s storied career. Now we have received orders from C2 to execute Operation: Longevity, a highly classified mission to highlight those elements of Dr. Strangelove that provide for its continued relevance to a post-Cold War society. Classified as much as any freely-available internet editorial can be … so not at all. Dr. Strangelove‘s legacy is a funny thing, or more accurately its legacy is engrained in its use of humor. Indeed all comedies strive for humor — reference for such revelatory claims can be verified in the New England Journal of Obviousness – but Kubrick’s use of humor to tell this particular story is both innovative and staggeringly bold. The film serves as the premier satire of the Cold War, a tense period of sabre-rattling and missile-measuring between the stubborn superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union. Hey, if there is any subject guaranteed to elicit laughter, it’s mutually assured destruction.

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Dr Strangelove

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Election

Election Day is stressful. No matter which side you fall on, Democrat, Republican or that guy who wants to legalize pot, this 2012 Election has been one for the books. It’s a race that will come down to the wire as the nation shows how split it is ideologically. And for anyone with emotional investment in either candidate, there will be some grey hairs gained before it’s all said and done. As a born-and-raised Ohioan, my thoughts are with the pummeled masses in my home state. Friends and family who have all had their lives shaken up with an onslaught of campaign ads and robocalls. As someone who lived through two elections as an adult living in Ohio, I can vouch that it’s torture. So this list is for you, my dearest friends and relatives in Ohio. A list of 7 movies you can watch today that are political and enjoyable. Because it’s Election Day and we should celebrate our democracy by doing our civic duty. But we also should be able to relax and have a little bit of fun. So download one (or more) of these to your iPad to watch while you’re waiting in line for hours just to get to the polls.

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Being funny is never easy, especially when you’re being funny about unfunny things. As far as dark humor goes, death is actually a rather simple topic to cover. However once you start getting into the meaning of death, or mass genocide, or the afterlife, that’s when things start getting a little tricky. Sometimes you have to stop worrying about offending the people who won’t get it and start worrying about entertaining the people who will. So here are some movies that, no matter what your feelings on them are, managed to successfully make a mockery out of something quite serious.

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Life comes before art, always. When life is lost – the first priority is the people who were most affected by it, and being respectful of the loss they had to endure. Because of this, the upcoming film Gangster Squad has opted to possibly eliminate or re-shoot an entire scene that touches a little too close to the heartbreak which occurred last week in Aurora, Colorado. It is a difficult situation that you can look at from two very different perspectives, both of which are quite valid. The first is the aforementioned need for respect, which does take precedence over everything else. However there is also the need to carry on, to not let a singular son of a bitch affect our lives so much that we’re completely submitting to the melancholy to the point of letting it win the day. That said – it’s just a movie, and it can be changed. After all, it’s happened before…

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about… well, the title is pretty self explanatory, is it not? We begin this evening with a shot at some concept art for The Wolverine, the James Mangold directed, Hugh Jackman starring film that has some high hopes following the mess that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. We can see some Japanese prison things, some samurai stuff and all kinds of amber hues. So far, so good.

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Stanley Kubrick has appeared in the credits for at least 17 films since his death in 1999. How is that possible? There’s a ton of people thanking him and making movies about him. His influence stretches even beyond his impressive body of work. The infamous control freak has taken us to the Overlook Hotel, to a War Room where there’s no fighting, on an odyssey in space and beyond. He’s an indelible part of the film conversation who had a rare gift for challenging conventions while embracing components of traditional commercial filmmaking. Last Friday’s Short Film of the Day was a hint at which director this column would take on next, so here it is: a free bit of film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a chaotic mind with a gorgeous eye. Or, as Kirk Douglas put it, “a talented shit.”

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You heard me – I’m dumping practically everything I can think of at you, and no doubt I’ll still miss a few. In fact, there’s one I am intentionally leaving out just so I can watch the angry comments and laugh like a Disney villain. Honestly, though – after having my memory jarred by all the comments on my first installment of 14 of the Most Impressive Monologues in Movie History, I couldn’t not make another one of these. So here are, once more, some movie monologues out there that really stick out from the rest.

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Spock on Hollywood Blvd

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of things that serious movie lovers will find interesting, useful, or both. We begin this evening with an image from the website of the LA Times, who are featuring great reader photos chronicling Southern California moments. This one, by a gentleman named Chris Jackson, is of a street performer dressed as Spock on Hollywood Boulevard. Awesome costume. No, I don’t want a photo. No, I will not tip you. No, stop touching my girlfriend’s thigh. Live long and prosper, now get away from me.

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Culture Warrior

There will inevitably be a movie about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden – this much is certain. Recent news has established that Kathryn Bigelow might be the first to try to put into play one of several projects related to last week’s assassination amongst several that are being shopped around. The reasoning is clear, as the material lends itself inherently to cinematic expression. The mission itself, in short, feels like a movie. Whether or not this movie (or movies) will have anything to say beyond what we already know and think and feel is unknown and, in Cole Abaius’s terms, it will be difficult for such projects to escape an inherent potential to come across as a shameless “cash-in.” My personal prediction is that the first movie that arises from bin Laden’s death will, at best, be an exciting procedural that visualizes an incident we are currently so invested in and preoccupied with. But I doubt that anything released so soon will remotely approach a full understanding of bin Laden’s death as catharsis for American citizens, as a harbinger for change in the West’s relationship to the Middle East and the Muslim world, as a precedent for the possible fall of al Qaeda, etc. In short, we won’t be able to express cinematically (or in any other medium, for that matter) what the death of bin Laden means until the benefits of time and hindsight actually provide that meaning. This is why I think any movies about Osama […]

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers regarding the ending of Four Lions. You have been warned (hence, y’know, the whole “Warning” thing). Almost exactly one year ago, on December 25, 2009, 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 headed from Amsterdam to Detroit. The mission, as we all know, failed. The incident regarding the man who became known as the “underwear bomber” is one that has understandably been met with fascination in the media. The incident proved fodder material in discourse amongst comedians who mutually expressed an inability to understand why al-Qaeda would even take credit for such an embarrassing and silly failure. A mental image perpetuated across culture of a young Muslim fanatic attempting to light his underwear on fire as a show of religious devotion. The actual details of the incident are in fact far funnier. Passengers and flight attendants saw that Abdulmutallab’s leg had caught flame during flight, and used blankets and a fire extinguisher to put it out. His pants were gone, he had burns on his leg, and when he was finally asked by a flight attendant what it was he had in his pocket that caught fire, he simply stated, “an explosive device” as dryly as one would say “chapstick.” As an act intended to induce terror, Abdulmutallab’s attempted underwear bombing is as great an embarrassing failure for his associated enterprise as one could imagine.

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If there’s one thing I love more than seeing a great movie for the first time, it’s sharing a movie that I find great with someone whom has never seen it before. It might be part of something essential in human nature: a desire to share an experience that one finds profound with those whose opinion you trust and value. Whether it be something intensely moving, shockingly original, incredibly interesting, intellectually challenging, or unprecedentedly hilarious, introducing a valuable cinematic experience to a friend can induce the most rewarding of feelings for the cinephile.

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We all love seeing the Earth blow up in movies, even if it rarely happens. We’re in this fight together, and if we all pitch in just a little bit, we’ll be able to witness the complete death of our Earth many times during our lifetime.

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It has been a long year for Blu-ray releases, and one that has seen some great gems and some major disappointments. But in the end, we have ten honorable mentions and ten best releases, all of which should be in your collection.

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oam-ducksoup

War! Politics! Insults! Absurdity! The greatest comedy group of all time makes their funniest movie.

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bluray-header

This week I am pleased to bring you the most epic Blu-ray report in the history of my musings about the format. As you may have noted, I’ve taken the past two weeks off and have missed quite a few titles. So I’m playing catch up.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Kevin and Neil say “Screw the new films!” and dive into a bed of controversy – Kevin for calling both Sarah Palin and David Letterman idiots and Neil for some racial comments we’re sure he’ll have to apologize for at some point. Oh, and they do talk a little bit about The Proposal and Year One.

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5 Keys to Political Comedies

In honor of the DVD release of Charlie Wilson’s War today and the upcoming elections this year, we would like to offer up our list of 5 key characteristics that all politicians (and German dictators) seem to have in common.

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