Tom Hanks on the Piano in Big

Classic movies can sometimes be uncomfortable to watch. Many things that were socially accepted during the Golden Age of Hollywood are not today, and vice versa. And representations and treatment of minorities of race, religion, sexual orientation and gender were often inauthentic — whether because of customary ignorance or concealment. But it’s not just the movies of our grandparents’ era that fit into this idea where we need to consider the times when appreciating cinema, whether it’s awful stereotypes in The Birth of a Nation or marital rape in Marnie or the general villainization of Native Americans for decades. We’re now far enough away from the 1980s that it’s time to reexamine just what we thought was okay and particularly what we found funny back then. Many of the plots of hit comedies from that decade would never fly today. Some of it is leftover political incorrectness and downright racism and sexism, but there have also been cultural and technological changes in the last 25-35 years that make other scenarios dated and maybe even incomprehensible to young viewers now. One element of many 1980s movies that wouldn’t work for modern audiences is all the homophobia employed in insult humor and gags involving gay bars. There was also a huge issue regarding seemingly innocent, mostly non-physical sexual assault back then, from ghosts and super-powered guys peeping on and stripping unsuspecting women to more common non-supernatural forms of voyeurism. Hollywood could easily remake many of the movies guilty of those issues and leave out […]


Guardians of the Galaxy Obscene Gesture

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill slowly unwinds his middle finger like a jack-in-the-box as men gaze at him from the other side of smart glass warning of his imminent “obscene gesture.” Flipping the bird has now become interstellar, the latest in a long history of imaginative fingering. The gesture has evolved beyond a simple way to say “fuck you.” It’s the obvious and subtle threat between the fingers, no longer happy to simply pop up, now it dances in many forms. Some fling it in anger, some let it tease, and some see theirs blown off. It can be bloody, robotic, disembodied, Tank Girled and adamantiumed. If Hollywood put half as much effort into storytelling as they put into creative uses of the middle finger, many of the industry’s problems would be solved. For now, we have the following 10 birds, some of which are part of the “Movie Middle Finger”video montage featured way down. Is your favorite missing?


Claire Danes Cry Face

There’s a way to do sadness in film, and there’s a way to make sadness all about you. Many of our favorite films feature a heartbreaking scene or two that tug at the emotions ever so gently, but there are some that take that premise and run with it all the way to the cry bank by using the supreme talents of their actors and their abilities to tear-up like there’s no tomorrow. Can you scrunch up your face and look like death’s just arrived? Excellent, Claire Danes, we’ll see you tomorrow. From Danes to Brando, here are some truly impressive cry faces.


Heathers Movie

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glenn shadix heathers

Did you know that Heathers screened in competition at Sundance? Even I wasn’t aware of this (or I’d forgotten), and I swear I’m one of the movie’s biggest fans. It’s not a fact revealed on the DVD commentary, apparently. It’s not even listed among the release dates on IMDb or Wikipedia, both of which tend to include major film festival appearances. The dark teen movie classic didn’t premiere in Park City, but following its debut in Milan, Italy, at the MIFED film market in October 1988, it went on to Sundance (then still known as the U.S. Film Festival) in January 1989, where it faced such features as Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies and videotape (winner of the inaugural audience award), Martin Donovan’s Apartment Zero and Nancy Savoca’s barely remembered True Love, which won the dramatic jury prize (nice going 1989 jury member Jodie Foster!). According to Peter Biskind’s book Down and Dirty Pictures, Heathers had the highest budget of the program at $3M, making it a “questionable” choice given that it was too Hollywood for the event at that time. You can see the original guide entry for Heathers on the Sundance website, where the original festival program director, Tony Safford, describes the film as a mix of River’s Edge and Something Wild while also championing the performance of U.S. Film Festival vet Winona Ryder (she was there previously with 1987’s Salt Lake City opening night selection, Square Dance). I find no record of what date Heathers first screened at the fest, […]



Going to high school in the 1980s, I was the perfect age to connect with a film like Heathers. Knowing a friend who struggled with suicide and together rolling our eyes at the idiotic depiction of it in many films made it hit even closer to home. Extremely daring for its time, Heathers challenged and threatened media stereotypes of teenagers and high school. Long before Diablo Cody gave an edgy pop vocabulary to high schoolers in Juno, Daniel Waters’ script introduced moviegoers to a particularly colorful jargon that we all licked up. The commentary from Waters, director Michael Lehmman and producer Denise Di Novi on the original DVD release was recorded nine years after the film was released, revealing a look at the film only recently after evolving into a full-on cult classic. Fortunately, the hindsight adds to the darkly sardonic experience.



By the time I read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, I had already read a few Harry Potter books and I couldn’t help but think of the earlier sci-fi work initially as “Harry Potter in space.” It’s a comparison that continues for many now that the movie is out. “Harry Potter meets Star Wars,” claims a blurb used in UK ads credited to Sky Movies host Craig Stevens. And if you search Twitter for “Ender’s Game and Harry Potter” the results of both titles mentioned together is aplenty. All this is natural for the lazy way we relate movies to each other. The sad thing is some kids might think of the new movie as a derivative piece of YA fiction modeled after J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard. I don’t know if Potter was at all influenced by Ender’s Game. It’s not like Card’s book was the first messianic tale. The website TV Tropes even labels the relevant trope as “A Child Shall Lead Them,” a Biblical quote that also appears at the top of the New York Times review of the movie, in which critic Manohla Dargis breaks out the ol’ “Christ figure” descriptor for the main character. Still, I wish that I’d both read and seen the Harry Potters after reading/seeing Ender’s Game. If you’ve somehow avoided all the Hogwarts adventures before going to Battle School with the new Ender’s adaptation, consider yourself lucky. Watch the entire series now to see what I’m talking about. And right there I’ve got […]


Photo by Steve Boland (SFCityscape on Flickr)

“Movie Houses of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, I’ve chosen one of my own favorite theaters, or at least the return of an old favorite. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor. The New Parkway Location: 474 24th Street, Oakland, CA Opened: November 30, 2012 (original Parkway Theater existed at another location from January 1997 through March 2009) No. of screens: 2 Current first-run titles: Trance; Olympus Has Fallen; Disconnect


Mean Girls

With his debut feature, Heathers, director Michael Lehmann created a cult hit that’s still earning new fans more than two decades after its release. Heathers stars Winona Ryder as Veronica, the newest and most reluctant member of her high school’s popular clique, the Heathers (referred to as such because the other three members are all named Heather). After falling in with a rebel boy named (hilariously) JD, (Christian Slater), Veronica decides that maybe it’s time somebody takes the Heathers down a peg, and maybe it should be her and her new beau. Things get out of control and murdery after that. The film sticks with audiences because it’s honest and brutal in its portrayal of the social strata of high school and the level of abuse that rolls downhill from the popular kids to the geeks. And it sure doesn’t turn a blind eye to the melancholy and melodrama that comes along with having teenage hormones. It faces the issue of teenage suicide head on and makes sick jokes about it, and it’s just that brand of nihilism that young people respond to most. Mark Waters’ Mean Girls isn’t quite yet a decade old, but already it seems to have faded away much more than Lehmann’s look at high school life. This is strange, because not only does it deal with many of the same concerns as Heathers, but it also comes from a script that was written by Tina Fey. From her work as the head writer on SNL, […]


Merch Hunter - Large

This week, I have been mostly losing all of my free time to the dark corridors of eBay, dredging the murky waters for a decent metaphor and the hidden nuggets of merchandise gold amongst the seemingly endless amounts of over-priced silt.Obviously you get some utter shit – like this genuine piece of brick from the Asda car-park featured in The Full Monty (why exactly?) – but those willing to trawl through the collected detritus and Twilight paraphenalia can still find some wonderful potential additions to their own collections. But then, eBay these days is something of a seller’s market when you get to the really high-end merch, so unless you stumble across a kindly old lady who has no idea of the true worth of the treasure’s she is posting, it’s not exactly likely you’ll ever find a real bargain that will find you featured in your local paper grinning like a moron under some headline shouting of your incredible good fortune in buying the real ruby necklace from Titanic for a buck or something. Anyway, the long and short of that meandering opening gambit is that stuff is expensive. It is a recession after all. Or at least I think it still is. So picking up the kind of delightful trinkets and treasures below is no longer for the feint-hearted: but if you have a few spare (hundred) dollars, there are some really beautiful, frivolous things you can spend it on to feed your habits.


When I look back at the films of my youth one thing remains constant—I love a 90s slacker. Tall, long-haired, ripped up jeans and cardigans falling disheveled off their shoulders. These are the men I always kept in the back of my mind as I entered the dating world. However, it wasn’t until a friend pointed it out that I realized I had such a 90s slacker fixation. To me, the characters Ethan Hawke, Christian Bale, and Rory Cochrane played in early to mid 90s films embodied everything sensual and perfect about being an adult. Especially their rejection of the adult world as it was. As I aged, I started to notice other benefits to these men. They were creative, romantic, adventurous, smoked (which always makes you sexy, no?), and most of all magnetic to everyone around them. Reality Bites’ main bad-boy Troy Dyer (Hawke) was the ultimate artist. He painted, wrote music, and left every woman swooning after him. His detachment from his best friend Lelaina (Winona Ryder) only intensified her need for him, and encouraged their eventual coitus. It wasn’t that he tried hard to get the girl, he just couldn’t keep them from coming at him. Who cared if he couldn’t hold down a job, or pay his share of the rent? Troy was always a charmer capable of surviving, and with him went my heart.


Kevin asks the folks planning this God-forsaken Heathers TV remake: Did they have a brain tumor for breakfast?



If you haven’t heard of Diablo Cody, screenwriter of the Toronto Film Fest hit Juno, that can be forgiven. If you haven’t heard of Megan Fox, then there is nothing we can do. Either way, you may soon know them together along with a movie called Jennifer’s Body.

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published: 12.23.2014
published: 12.22.2014
published: 12.19.2014

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