Pop Culture

Ron Guyatt Jurassic Park

Imagine how impressed your dinner guests will be when they pass by the chocolate fountain in the hallway and spy the Isla Nublar map hanging on your wall – complete with detailed information on where the Raptor and T-Rex pens are. “Is that an antique from a wealthy. erstwhile relative?” they’ll ask. “Why no,” you’ll say, “it’s a Jurassic Park-inspired print from Ron Guyatt.” And they will swoon. Guyatt’s work is simple, but dynamic, toying around with the imagery of famous films, television shows and video games alike. Targets range from Kung Fu Panda to “Scott Pilgrim” to “Tetris,” and each print is curiously affordable. Check out some of the movie prints for yourself:

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? This short film from Elise The might be the perfect companion piece to yesterday’s short, “They Come To Get Us.” They’re both pop culture explosions of strikingly different kinds. The latter is a pure overload by numbers, but Synchronize is electric in its ability to use iconic images and twist them in new ways. Using negative imagery, a cut and paste mentality, and a crazed imagination, this short film is stellar work that celebrates the allure and impact of movies. *Note: Some viewers may have to click through to Vimeo and wait a few minutes for it to load as the video is behind some sort of semi-paywall. However, it’s absolutely worth the wait (especially when you can let it load and come back to it later).* What will it cost? Only 3 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Godzilla terrorizes New York City, a clever raptor drives a police car and The Death Set clamors its way through a chaotic music video for “They Come to Get Us” complete with an introduction inspired by Back to the Future. It’s a frenetic mash-up of 70s film grain, science fiction icons, Beastie Boy shout-outs and a million other recognizable faces creating a crowd of cartoons and pop culture to an unrelenting base beat. It might give you a heart attack, but it’ll leave you with a smile on your face. What will it cost? Only 2 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

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Criterion Files

The 1980s proved to be an interesting and difficult time for auteurs of the 1960s and 1970s. Directors like Copolla, Scorsese, De Palma, Altman, etc. offered works that were far from their classics of the previous decade, but many of these films have aged well and proven to be compelling entries within the respective ouvres of these directors precisely because they aren’t part of their canon. While British director Nicolas Roeg did not play a central part in New Hollywood in the same way as the directors I listed, his 1970s work was certainly part and parcel of this brief countercultural revolution in narrative storytelling. I see Roeg as something of a British equivalent to Hal Ashby: someone who made brilliant entry after brilliant entry throughout a single decade, only to fade out of the spotlight once the 1980s began. But unlike the late Ashby, Roeg has continued making films during these years, and The Criterion Collection has taken one of his most perplexing entries from the era of Reagan and Alf out of obscurity. Insignificance (1985) is a strange film about a strange time. Based on the play by Terry Johnson, Insignificance stages an impossible meeting between iconoclastic minds as the likenesses of Marilyn Monroe (Roeg’s then-wife Teresa Russell), Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey), and Sen. Joe McCarthy (Tony Curtis) move in an out of a hotel room as they share a variety of 50s-topical dramatic scenarios.

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Back in 1990 a Rob Reiner-directed horror thriller called Misery took an underappreciated actor named Kathy Bates and rocketed her to the top of the world. Her portrayal of the homely but psychotic Annie Wilkes got tons of critical praise, had the mainstream talking, and eventually won her a Best Actress Oscar. In 1994 an oddball comedy named Ace Ventura: Pet Detective took a relatively obscure comedian named Jim Carrey and made him one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. That’s not the movie I’m going to be talking about though. The movie I’m going to talk about came two years later, it’s called The Cable Guy, and it was seen as the first disappointment of Carrey’s gigantic post Ace Ventura career. His portrayal of the troubled “Chip Douglas” didn’t register with critics or audiences who previously had no trouble accepting him as a pet detective that talked out of his butt, a walking cartoon character with a booger for a head, and a sociopath named Lloyd Christmas who sold a dead bird to a blind kid. Was Misery really that much better a movie than The Cable Guy? Was Bates’s performance as Annie really that much better than Carrey’s as the unnamed cable installer? Or is this just the case of a movie that was a little bit ahead of it’s time getting a bad rap?

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You get off a plane that’s hopefully been screaming-baby-free and emerge into sunshine and sea air. After a brief cab ride toward the water’s edge, you feel the shadow of the San Diego Convention Center blanket you in its strangely warm glow. The giant banners for movies have already taken over entire buildings, and people are already lined up to get badges (and to get into the Twilight panel the next day). This is Comic-Con. There are friends to meet up/catch up with and food to grab (since the screaming baby on your plane drooled all over your bagel), but nothing really starts going until the evening when the doors are opened for Preview Night. Now, it was pretty clear last year, but this year sealed it. “Preview Night” should just be called “Day One.” When you have 20,000 people crammed into a building, the event you’re gearing up for has already started.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as EruditeSmurf007 and NostalgiaFiend238 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair rewatches the trailer for The Smurfs in an attempt to figure out why something that harmless needs to be modernized. Weren’t they cute and lovable before? Does a movie like that really need to fake appeal to a snarky teenage audience or should children and their parents be enough? Who is responsible for Smurfette flashing her panties at everyone and who on the production thought pop culture references would buoy a terrible film? In shorter terms, why can’t certain film productions get childhood icons right?

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Why Watch? Because you’re still obsessed with that episode of Saved By the Bell where Mr. Belding’s brother Rod promises to take everyone on that rafting trip. And that’s okay. This short is beyond charming. Four friends who think Rod Belding is a real person, track him down in order to find some clarity. The whole thing is sweet and funny and innocent – and the montage sequence midway through that recaps everything that was just seen is particularly hilarious. With cameos from Ed Blatchford (who played Rod in that fateful episode), Dennis Haskins (the beloved Mr. Belding), and a soaring use of The Goo Goo Dolls, this short film takes pop culture compulsion seriously while celebrating the tiniest of moments in TV history. What Will It Cost? Just 22 minutes of your time. Does it get better any better than that? Check out Saved By the Belding for yourself:

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Reading “Freakonomics” was sort of a badge of honor for presumably independent-thinking business school students back in college, but its effect cannot be overstated. It was part of the non-fiction revolution taking a deeper look into the world that we live in from a younger generation that refused to wear tweed jackets or talk quietly in class. A generation more pop-cultured than cultured. It makes sense that in adapting the best-selling book into a film, the younger generation of well-known documentary filmmakers would be asked to add their own true story about connectivity to the mix.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we delve deep into the world of why The Oscars should nominate more populist best pictures. And we rob a bank.

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mwl-josieandthepussycats

Josie and the Pussycats is the best movie ever! Josie and the Pussycats is the best band ever! Orange is the new pink! For some reason, Cole Abaius loves this movie. Has he been brainwashed by subliminal messages in pop music and Mr. Moviefone?

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I do not play “World of Warcraft”, the extremely popular — and in many ways cultish — massively multi-player online role playing game. But while you won’t see me leading my character through the Hellfire Peninsula or Thunder Bluff, you may just run across a celebrity or two.

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
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published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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