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Curio: Alternative Oscar Art

17 February 2015 6:00 AM, PST

Alexa here. It's that time of year, where artists and designers take a crack at creating alternative posters for the Oscar nominated films. As they do every year the BAFTAs commissioned posters for their nominated films; the Academy is at least featuring movie Valentines from illustrator Nan Lawson on its site but I wish they'd feature some alternative nominee posters too (grumble grumble).  To fill the void, here are some favorite designs I've spied floating around... 

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- Alexa

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Review: 50 Shades of Grey

16 February 2015 6:33 PM, PST

This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad. It is reprinted here with a couple of minor adjustments.

Spoiler Alert: Nothing happens in 50 Shades Of Grey. Nothing at all. The property’s idiot savant genius may be how well it achieves this tabula rasa narrative and aesthetic zen state. Its slate is so blank that the audience is free to project whatever they’d like on to it including the drama. Byoe: Bring Your Own Everything. Perhaps this accounts for its enormous “event” like status at the box office. 

We begin with an embarrassingly botched interview between a young woman who we're supposed to think of as a frumpy plain jane, an unstylish deer in the headlights if you will, and the snappily dressed über intimidating businessperson who will decide her fate. (Think The Devil Wears Prada plus sexual tension minus jokes). Naive and beautiful young Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson »

- NATHANIEL R

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Looking For Truth: Out of the City

16 February 2015 4:30 PM, PST

Manuel here to offer this week's Looking recap filtered through a decidedly ranty diatribe on Lgbt representation.

I was looking for glimpses of the city that had formed me. I didn’t hold out hope that a Hollywood product would show me anything I recognized beyond a consumer gay culture satisfied with glossy representations as a sign of progress. - Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

I couldn't let this week's recap go by without addressing that New Inquiry piece published last week about Looking which opens with a Rent anecdote and that quote above.

Sycamore's framing tells us everything about what I've elsewhere called "the burden of representation"; notice that every sentence starts with an authoritative "I" that is supposed to function as both a composite of those "I"s that Looking and the homonormative gay industrial complex displaces but which nevertheless points us to an individuality that would (and does) refuse »

- Manuel Betancourt

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Beauty vs Beast: Little Drummer Bot

16 February 2015 1:30 PM, PST

Howdy folks it's Jason from Mnpp here, pulling myself out of the snow-heap I was buried under last week to drum up a new round of our "Beauty vs Beast" series, in which we ask you to pick sides between good and evil, movie-style. By this time next week the 87th Academy Awards will have come and gone in an explosion of gold-dust and gowns, so I figure I'll get one more contender in here before it's too late... and what better place to celebrate Oscar Season than with the Best Picture nominee that's all about the blood and the sweat and the brutality that goes into slicing and dicing art down to ecstatic perfection? Replace Miles Teller's drumsticks with little golden men and replace Jk Simmons with, well, let's say Harvey Weinstein cuz you know why not, and you get the idea. Enter Whiplash, where losers need not apply. »

- JA

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Box Office: Grey Whips His Competition

16 February 2015 11:00 AM, PST

Amir here, apologetic about the terrible pun in the headline, and bringing you the weekend’s numbers with a glass of wine and a pair of handcuffs.

Valentine’s Day just passed on by and more than any other year, it felt like a zenith for Capitalism and a nadir for humanity. 50 Shades of Grey came close to breaking February’s all-time record thanks to a massive audience who, going by the statistical reports of their age, mostly went to see what their mothers are secretly into. I won’t be watching the film until tomorrow night – I haven’t spent more than the cheap Tuesday ticket price on any film that won the weekend’s box office since… Toy Story 3? – so I’ll reserve my opinion on the film, but I’m genuinely looking forward to it. No, really. (Here's Nathaniel's review) Public response has been mixed, and if you, »

- Amir S.

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Yes No Maybe So: Trainwreck

16 February 2015 9:00 AM, PST

Manuel here to discuss one of last week’s hottest trailers by one of my favorite funny ladies. After the success of Bridesmaids ($288 million worldwide gross and 2 Oscar nominations), it’s not surprising seeing Judd Apatow partnering up with another small-screen comedy talent for her big screen debut.

Written by Amy Schumer and directed by Apatow himself comes Trainwreck ("We all know one" the poster coyingly tells us), which opens this July as a nice bit of counter-programming (it goes up against Apatow-alum Paul Rudd's Ant-Man so you know where my momey that weekend will be going to). The film will first show itself over at SXSW as a "work-in-progress" so we'll have word of what to expect sooner rather than later, though it shows great confidence in the material. It also tells us precisely what kind of demographic they're hoping to muster enthusiasm among. Both Funny People and »

- Manuel Betancourt

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Interview: Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz on 'Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem'

16 February 2015 7:39 AM, PST

Jose here. In Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, Israeli goddess Ronit Elkabetz returns to play a part she’s lived with for more than a decade. In 2004, Ronit and her brother Shlomi teamed up as writers and co-directors of a film trilogy that would concentrate on the experiences of a woman as seen through the roles society imposed on her. In the first installment, To Take a Wife, Viviane must deal with being trapped in a loveless marriage to her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian), in 7 Days, Viviane must sit Shiva and come to terms with the fact that she is obligated to mourn despite not feeling pain. In Gett, which opened this weekend on the heels of its Golden Globe Foreign Film nomination (Oscar passed it by), Viviane is trying to gain her freedom from Elisha, but finds that practically impossible given that her husband hasn’t committed »

- Jose

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