Mark Duplass on Breaking Into Hollywood, Filming on iPhones, and the Best Advice for Young Filmmakers [Interview]

Mark and Jay Duplass have collaborated on shorts, feature films, television, and, by their account, some cheap childhood remakes of The Blob. (They just threw a beanbag down the stairs.) But they’ve crossed into an entirely new medium with their latest effort: a book, called Like Brothers. Like Brothers is part memoir, part practical filmmaking guide, part soul-searching about The Karate Kid Part II. Flip to one page and you’ll get sincere advice … [Read more...]

How Rodgers and Hammerstein Shaped the Hollywood Musical (and Almost Killed It in the Process)

Over the course of their careers, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote hundreds of songs. They created Oklahoma!, Carousel, The King and I, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music — and in the process, they revolutionized musicals as we knew them. In the new book Something Wonderful, Todd S. Purdum examines the pair’s prolific work on the stage, following them from their separate early careers through their partnership and death. But he … [Read more...]

What’s the Secret to Making a Great Live TV Musical?

NBC executives likely breathed a sigh of relief when the ratings for Jesus Christ Superstar posted. The network’s latest live musical event attracted 9.6 million viewers, giving NBC its most-watched Easter Sunday in 12 years. Jesus Christ Superstar also got some nice notices in the press, earning praise for its cast and stark staging on a graffitied warehouse set. It’s just the good news that NBC, and live musicals as a whole, need. Because the … [Read more...]

How ‘Jessica Jones’ Uses Words as Weapons

In its second season, Jessica Jones has gotten angrier and messier. Through its exploration of Jessica’s tragic past, the show has remained an unflinching look at trauma and healing — how one gifted woman processes years of abuse, abandon, and plain old misogyny. Jessica uses multiple coping mechanisms to deal with this trauma, among them binge drinking and physical violence. But she also shields herself with words, often vulgar, cutting words. … [Read more...]

The Midnight Magic of ‘The Room’: Tales From Screenings of the Worst Movie Ever Made

The Room is many things. An endless well of internet memes. An absolute trainwreck of a film. But it’s also the most successful midnight movie of the modern era, the heir apparent to Rocky Horror Picture Show. Since The Room debuted in 2003, it’s developed an intense fan following on the midnight movie circuit. There are dozens of callbacks and hundreds of spoons. Director/writer/star Tommy Wiseau makes frequent appearances at screenings. So does … [Read more...]

Why Young People Love Bad Movies: From ‘Reefer Madness’ to ‘The Room’

A lot of people can’t understand why someone would want to watch a bad movie – even one that’s “so bad, it’s good.” Yet many bad movies find a completely intentional audience, several years after the fact. Take Ed Wood. The filmmaker died obscure and broke in 1978. Now he’s a famous cult figure with an award-winning biopic to his name, whose movies are screened all over the world. The same thing is happening right now to Tommy Wiseau, the strange … [Read more...]

50 Years Later, ‘The Graduate’ Still Speaks to Everyone – By Saying Nothing

When The Graduate opened in theaters on December 22, 1967, it was quickly branded a generation-defining movie. Twentysomething audiences responded rapturously to the movie’s portrayal of postgrad malaise and uncertainty, as well as its firm rejection of their parents’ suburban ambitions. (Why get married and get a job in “plastics” when you can run out of the wedding chapel and onto a school bus heading literally anywhere else?) The Graduate … [Read more...]

‘Room 104’ Review: ‘My Love’ Closes Out an Uneven First Season

(Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?) Room 104 finishes its first season with a sentimental love story starring a long-married elderly couple. Charlie and Lorraine have a long history with Room 104, dating back to their wedding night a half century ago. Their latest visit ends up serving as a neat bookend to their saga. “My Love” isn’t a surreal or shocking … [Read more...]

‘Room 104’ Review: ‘The Fight’ Transforms the Room Into an Arena

(Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?) “The Fight” reimagines Room 104 as something more than a place for trysts or cash-strapped travelers. This time, it’s an MMA arena. Two fighters are staying in the motel ahead of their big match the next night. They decide to team up, throw the fight, and get paid. But pride gets in the way. The actual fight starts in … [Read more...]

‘Room 104’ Review: HBO’s Anthology Series Delivers Its Trump Episode With ‘Red Tent’

  (Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?) It took almost a full season, but Room 104 has delivered its Trump episode. While his name is never mentioned, the specter of Donald Trump hangs heavy over “Red Tent.” He’s present in the unseen, inflammatory politician who tells it like it is. He’s there as a prospective voter gripes about immigration, NAFTA, and gay … [Read more...]

‘Room 104’ Review: ‘Boris’ is an Immigrant Story…With a Pantless Santa Claus

(Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?) Room 104 has hosted ghosts, voyeurs, and Mormons. But until this week, no celebrities. Enter Boris, an internationally famous tennis star who’s having an erratic evening. Through his unlikely friendship with a housekeeper, Boris faces some long buried trauma. But not before he dons an unusual costume.What’s the … [Read more...]

‘Room 104’ Review: ‘Phoenix’ Takes the Anthology Series Back to 1969

(Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?) For the second time this season, Room 104 traveled back in time. “Phoenix” takes place in the late 1960s, just moments after a plane crash. The sole survivor is trying to make sense of what happened to her, and decide what to do next. Luckily, Liza arrives to help her choose a path forward.What’s the Strangest Thing … [Read more...]

‘Room 104’ Review: ‘The Missionaries’ Brings a Mormon Meet-Cute to Room 104

(Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?) Mormon missionaries aren’t the easiest story subjects. Their work is tedious, their uniforms are square, and they only recently got permission to drink Pepsi. Unless you’ve got showtunes, how do you make their stories compelling? Well, if you’re the Duplass brothers, you add in a dual crisis of faith and sexuality. “The … [Read more...]