The Ziegfeld Theater isn’t much to look at from the outside. True, it has that old-fashioned marquee, with the little light bulbs and the name “Ziegfeld” written in perfect cursive, as if God himself signed his name to a building. But otherwise its exterior is totally nondescript; maybe even ugly. It’s a bland gray and black box amidst the offices and hotels on 54th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. It’s not attention grabbing. It’s easy to walk by without giving it a second thought. And clearly thousands of people do exactly that every day; the theater has been losing money for years (over $1 million annually, according to The New York Post). Although the theater’s leaseholder, Cablevision, has made no formal announcement, today is apparently its last day as a functioning movie theater. After tonight’s 10PM showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Ziegfeld closes forever.
‘Legends of Tomorrow’ got off to a strong start with last night’s premiere, but one moment from the series debut seemed to stick out as especially ill-devised. Namely, why the hell did ‘Legends’ think it necessary for Victor Garber’s Professor Martin Stein to drug and kidnap his Firestorm partner into joining the mission, and how in the world did the others laugh that off?
Netflix and Marvel delivered one hell of a perfect story with Jessica Jones’ debut season, exploring trauma, consent, rape culture and empowerment via a narrative in which Krysten Ritter’s eponymous hero faces her past demons in the form of David Tennant’s sleazy super-villain Kilgrave. As many fans have pointed out, Season 1 is such a contained, perfect story that many felt they’d be satisfied if Netflix didn’t renew the series. But with the company officially announcing Season 2, we can’t help but wonder where that might take our hero next. We have a few ideas.
The 2016 Academy Award nominations have just been announced, but Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight has been the frontrunner for months. It was anointed the film to beat for Best Picture way back in September, when it debuted to rapturous reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival. Sure enough, when John Krasinski and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs revealed this year’s nominees, the drama about the Boston Globe reporters who revealed a sex-abuse cover-up within the Catholic Church earned six nods, including Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Picture. According to most experts (and Google search results) it’s sitting in pole position heading into the home stretch of awards season.
There’s a director who has been nominated for six Oscars. He even won once. His 2015 film was a critical and commercial success. It made over $350 million and has a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
There’s another director who has been nominated for...
There’s another director who has been nominated for...
There was a lot of paranoia about spoilers in the days and weeks (and months [and years]) leading up to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Trailers gave almost no indication of a plot beyond the presence of a) stars and b) wars. The official poster didn’t include a picture of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker for fear of revealing his fate. Even press screenings were delayed until the last possible moment to keep the lid on J.J. Abrams’ latest mystery box for as long as humanly possible.
Did you spend most of the holidays screaming at your television and engaging in debates over Netflix’s Making a Murderer? Was your morning commute last winter accompanied by the voice of Sarah Koenig from Serial’s debut season? Did you totally lose your shit during The Jinx finale? Welcome, fellow true crime TV addict, you are not alone.
Movies have long been a means of escapism, where one can slink away from their chaotic or mediocre lives into the anonymous oasis of a movie theater, or more often lately, into our streaming-equipped bedrooms and living rooms. I often think of Pauline Kael’s “Trash, Art, and the Movies” essay, in which she champions less prestigious pictures, the ones that make the most invigorating, lasting impressions on us, regardless of whether they’re regarded as “the best” films. “It’s the human material we react to most and remember longest,” she wrote. As much as movies enable us to escape the daily responsibilities of life, offering a chance to explore another world for a few hours, sometimes they bring us right back to ourselves. It’s when we’re left alone in the darkness to sit with ourselves that something transformative happens. It’s in those moments that a film, or even television, can lodge itself in our brains or hearts, injecting its roots until blossoming into larger revelations long afterward. Escaping through art can be the most cathartic and revealing process, where what’s on screen ends up holding a mirror back at us, perhaps seeing the things we don’t look at every day outside the theater. I like think Edward Hopper got it right. In one of my favorite paintings, Hopper’s New York Movie, a lone woman stands on the edges of a movie theater, her head down in deep contemplation as a film plays on screen. This is where the personal and the cinematic intersect.
Anyone who’s attended American film school in the last 20 years, has learned a variation of the same Hollywood history of the 1960s and ’70s. With the original moguls near retirement and death, and new competition from television, studios were in dire shape by the end of the ’60s. They reversed their fortunes by embracing younger audiences, adult content and themes, and new filmmakers; men like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, and Dennis Hopper. But just a few years after this so-called “New Hollywood” era of experimentation began, it was wiped out and replaced by another, far more profitable model pioneered by directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. They took B-movie premises and genres and coated them in A-movie gloss, and their movies — Jaws and Star Wars — essentially reshaped the American movie industry by inventing the concept of the blockbuster.
When Lucasfilm initially announced the lineup for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it wasn’t long before the studio began populating the cast with exciting choices: Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in lead roles, Gwendoline Christie, Oscar Isaac and Lupita Nyong’o in supporting roles, the return of Carrie Fisher — all of which proved the limitless, inclusive potential of a galaxy far, far away. What we didn’t (and couldn’t) know was just how diverse the flagship film in the new era of Star Wars would actually turn out to be, and it’s all thanks to one very simple, very effective casting choice.