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Ken Burns and the Myth of Theodore Roosevelt

6 hours ago

The Roosevelts, a new PBS documentary by director Ken Burns, presents President Theodore Roosevelt as a political superhero. In photo after photo, Burns’s famous pan-and-zoom effect magnifies Roosevelt’s flashing teeth and upraised fist. The reverential narrator hails his fighting spirit and credits him with transforming the role of American government through sheer willpower. “I attack,” an actor blusters, imitating Roosevelt’s patrician cadence, “I attack iniquities.”Though exciting to watch, Burns’s cinematic homage muddles the history. Roosevelt was a great president and brilliant politician, but he was not the progressive visionary and fearless warrior that Burns lionizes. He governed as a pragmatic centrist and a mediator who preferred backroom deal-making to open warfare. At the time, many of his progressive contemporaries criticized him for excessive caution. The “I attack” quote, for example, came from a 1915 interview in which Roosevelt defended himself from accusations that he had been too conciliatory. »


- Michael Wolraich

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Charles Dance Might Be Back on Game of Thrones

7 hours ago

Though he was last seen suffering the most humiliating death in Game of Thrones history, Charles Dance hints that he might not be gone for good. While promoting Dracula Untold, Dance told MTV, "I'm not completely missing out on the next series. You haven't seen the last of Tywin Lannister." This is big news not just because it means we get more Charles Dance (every show needs more Charles Dance!), but also because it adds more weight to rumors that GoT is abandoning its no-flashbacks policy, which has frustrated fans hoping for more of that good fantasy lore. Or it could just be his corpse. But if we're getting flashbacks, could Sean Bean achieve his own dream of returning to the show?Also, if you're wondering what young Charles Dance might look like, here you go. »


- Nate Jones

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Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem Starts Off As a Claustrophobic Mess Before Heading Somewhere Poignant

7 hours ago

Shot on a dime, Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem is a dense sci-fi fantasy/allegory that fills the screen with so much stuff — so many ideas and symbols and story elements and suggested pathways — that it winds up feeling claustrophobic. This happens sometimes with Gilliam: The greater his budgetary and narrative limitations, the more his imagination wants to cram in there, and sometimes his films threaten to break under the weight of all those fevered obsessions. The Zero Theorem, however, doesn’t break. It starts off as a mess, yes, but eventually finds itself in a very poignant place. Even a lesser Terry Gilliam film is usually more engaging and invigorating than most of the other movies out there.Here’s the (crazy, heavily symbolic, dreamlike) plot: Living in a huge, rambling church, an introverted computer wiz named Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) spends all his time working on programming »


- Bilge Ebiri

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Keanu Reeves Had a Home Invader Chilling in His Library

8 hours ago

On Sunday night, Keanu Reeves woke up to the sound of a strange woman shuffling around his library at four in the morning. The home invader, described as a woman in her mid-40s, was apparently a stalker who gained access to the Keanu Kompound after Reeves forgot to set his home-security system. Fortunately, like The Matrix Revolutions, this story has a happy ending: Reeves called the police, who reportedly took the woman away for psychiatric evaluation. Creepy! »


- Nate Jones

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10 Ways to Introduce Yourself to Nick Cave

8 hours ago

Since bursting forth in the late ’70s, Nick Cave has gone from a pretty post-punk junkie bandleader kicking around Australia to an internationally recognized musician, writer, and composer. Cave, 56, hasn't reinvented himself so much as he's simply evolved into his best self: not an angel, to be sure, but increasingly prolific and publicly polished since he called a reporter "scum-sucking shit" in an infamous NME interview from 1988.A new film about Cave, 20,000 Days on Earth, is a strange fact/fiction hybrid wherein the multi-hyphenate navigates various scenarios over what's supposed to be a day in his life. He encounters old friends and bandmates for soul-baring talks, meets with a therapist (not his therapist, but a therapist who questions him about his life), and lets viewers peek at his archives of footage and photos. 20,000 Days on Earth will, at least temporarily, sate the appetite of lifelong Cave devotees, but »


- Jenni Miller

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The Least Essential Tracks From 20 Now That’s What I Call Music! Albums

9 hours ago

Since 1998, Epic has been pumping out the Now That’s What I Call Music! compilations of the biggest pop hits of the moment … and at least one song you skip past and immediately forget. Forecasting pop hits is hard, so it makes sense that there would always be one non-hit, a second single from what turned out to be a one-hit wonder, a comeback that failed to come together, a Next Big Thing That Didn’t Pan Out. Pop history is written by the winners, but this week’s installment of Somewhere in Time will be all about the losers. So let’s hop in my DeLorean Gif as I revisit each installment in the Now! series and pick out the least significant track on each one. We may unearth a pleasant, faded memory! Or we may spend some time with Aaron Carter. Time will tell. 1. Imajin, “Shorty (You Keep »


- Dave Holmes

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Allora and Calzadilla’s Fault Lines Borders on Plagiarism

9 hours ago

After their atrocious 2011 Venice Biennale U.S. Pavilion — it included an upturned tank with a jogger atop, full-size wood reproductions of business-class airline seats with U.S. Olympic gymnasts doing tricks on them (ruining their feet on the terrazzo floor), and some sort of idiotic cash machine in a pipe organ (I think) — Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla have a lot to answer for.* But the curatorial-darling duo’s current Gladstone show only alleviates those past bad judgments a little.Fault Lines consists of ten large stone “sculptures,” all arranged tastefully about the spacious gallery. In actuality, they’re just unnecessarily heavy steps quarried, polished, moved to, and installed in the gallery at who knows what expense. Once an hour or so, two young male singers step onto the steps, moving about the gallery while singing insults to one another. The music is lovely and original; the performance lasts about 12 minutes. »


- Jerry Saltz

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Dr. Dre’s Detox Is Not Called That Anymore

10 hours ago

If you picked "Never" in your "When will Dr. Dre's Detox be released?" office pool, get ready to collect your winnings on a technicality: Dre is not going to put out an album by that name ... but only because he's chosen a different name. As producer Tayshaun Parker, who's working on the album, told the Shots Fired podcast, Dre abandoned the Detox title "a couple of years ago," possibly around the time of the 2008 Vulture post "Dr. Dre's Detox Finally Coming Out." »


- Nate Jones

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There Are Just So Many Things Wrong With the New York Times’ Shonda Rhimes Article

10 hours ago

New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley has a long history of being wrong about a great many things. But her newest article, an ostensible paean to Shonda Rhimes, is inaccurate, tone-deaf, muddled, and racist. "Wrought in Their Creator’s Image: Viola Davis Plays Shonda Rhimes’s Latest Tough Heroine" is a mess. Let's take a look."When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman." Why in the world would it be called that? Are there specific instances of Shonda Rhimes seeming particularly angry? Many of us follow her on Twitter, where she does not seem angry — except maybe about this atrocious article. What is the maximum amount of anger black women are allowed to demonstrate before they get stuck with that label? More angry than everyone else? What is it that qualifies Shonda Rhimes as an angry »


- Margaret Lyons

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From Tracks to Lord of the Rings: Who’s Walked the Farthest in Movies?

10 hours ago

Every so often, in a bizarre coincidence of release date timing, two movies that seem remarkably similar will arrive in theaters at the same time. Remember how Paul Blart and Observe and Report turned early 2009 into the year of the mall cop? It’s happening again this fall with Tracks, in which Mia Wasikowska treks 1,700 miles across the Australian outback, and Wild, in which Reese Witherspoon treks 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. These, of course, are not the first films to tag along with those traveling on foot. Nor are they the most ambitious. Even with an average distance walked of 1,400 miles, Wasikowska and Witherspoon aren’t among film history's top five when it comes to distance traveled using nothing but legs and feet. Here’s our list of Hollywood’s longest walkers:The Day After Tomorrow (2004): 225 miles, from Washington, D.C., to New York City Perfume: The »


- Adam K. Raymond,Lindsey Weber

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Robert Forster on Sci-fi, Lucky Breaks, and Better Call Saul

10 hours ago

Robert Forster knows a thing or two about reincarnation. The 73-year-old character actor has reinvented himself more than once, most notably with his Oscar-nominated 1997 role as bail bondsman Max Cherry in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Now he’s occupying a new body, as the shadowy hit man Frank Shepherd on the life-after-death sci-fi mystery Intruders, which BBC America is showcasing tomorrow from 4 to 8 p.m. with a marathon of the show’s first four episodes, leading up to the new episode featuring Forster at 10 p.m. “When I was 9 or 10 years old, I was sure reincarnation was how life progressed,” Forster says. “Why waste a whole life on one person if you don’t get another one? I haven’t been at all sure about the subject matter since.” Forster is sure about a few other things, however, like the fact that his legendary Breaking Bad character, the Disappearer, »


- Bruce Fretts

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5 Tips for Tina Fey on Becoming a Movie Star

10 hours ago

The movies need Tina Fey more than she needs the movies, but when it comes to big-screen projects, Hollywood hasn't given the Emmy-winning 30 Rock star much to work with. Last year, as her sitcom went off the air, Fey starred in the wan romantic comedy Admission, and she followed that up this spring with a Russian-baddie turn in the underperforming Muppets sequel. On paper, her participation in this weekend's star-studded family dramedy This Is Where I Leave You might have seemed like a better bet; in actuality, though, the poorly reviewed film is getting clobbered on Rotten Tomatoes by a Ya adaptation and the latest Liam Neeson action movie. Why hasn't Tina Fey's transition to the big screen gone as well as it could (and should)? Here are five tips for Fey that might turn her movie career around.Write your own projectsIn television, you’ve got women like »


- Kyle Buchanan

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A Comprehensive History of Jay Z and Beyoncé’s Relationship

11 hours ago

This article originally ran on July 23, 2014. We are reposting it in anticipation of Saturday's HBO On the Run Concert. With divorce rumors swirling around Jay Z and Beyoncé, it looks like the unthinkable might actually happen: Everybody’s favorite powerhouse duo may be headed for splitsville. Then again, it’s always been hard to tell what’s going on with the Carters. From the very start of their relationship, the two have been remarkably cryptic about their private life, managing to keep their most intimate aspects of their life sealed away despite being one of the world’s most talked-about couples. In honor of the epic saga that is Bey and Jay, Vulture takes a look back at the musical icons’ entertaining history together, beginning when she was Destiny’s Child’s front woman and Jay Z still had his hyphen, and charting their many collaborations (e.g., "Bonnie and Clyde, »


- Anna Silman

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Buildings Aren’t Usually Funny. Filip Dujardin's Are — and Here’s Why.

11 hours ago

The concept of the architectural folly is an old one. On English estates and in French gardens, landowners would occasionally put up an eccentric outbuilding that existed mostly for its looks. Most follies are overdone, wildly decorated, even ridiculous; one of the most famous is a hothouse that looks like a pineapple. In 20th-century America, they're echoed in the seemingly unserious buildings the architect Robert Venturi is known for taking seriously, like the L.A. hot-dog stand shaped like a giant hot dog, or Long Island's Big Duck.The Belgian photographer Filip Dujardin creates contemporary follies, but his buildings are even more fanciful — because they don't exist. They are digital fabulism, assembled from real-life parts into comical, fanciful wholes. (These images all come from his new monograph, Filip Dujardin: Fictions, published by Hatje Cantz.) Most of them, in real life, would not stand up on their own. Others, while theoretically buildable, »


- Christopher Bonanos

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Here’s What You Need to Know About The Maze Runner Before You See It

11 hours ago

In the opening scene of The Maze Runner, our uniquely special protagonist Thomas wakes up on a zooming elevator with his mind wiped clean of memories. Understandably, he's pretty freaked out, and every time he asks one of the other boys what's going on, they just reply, "I don't know." The disorientation isn't necessarily bad, though: Our critic Bilge Ebiri wrote, "Not knowing anything about The Maze Runner... isn’t a bad way to see The Maze Runner." But for those of you who like to know what's in the pie before you eat it, I took the liberty of reading The Maze Runner, its prequel The Kill Order, and watching the movie to give you the lowdown on what to expect. (Mild spoilers in the service of trying to figure out what the hell is going on.)What's The Maze Runner? For total newcomers, here's the trailer: That explained nothing. »


- E. Alex Jung

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CBS Is Making a New Version of Supergirl

11 hours ago

CBS is joining the superhero arms race: The Eye network has commissioned Supergirl, partnering with producers Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Mysteries of Laura), Ali Adler (Chuck, Glee), and Sarah Schechter for a new take on the DC Comics character. Word of the project first leaked out a few weeks ago, with DC and Warner Bros. TV then pitching the idea to various networks around Hollywood. CBS landed it after agreeing to a so-called series commitment, which means the network will have to pay Warners a massive financial penalty if it opts to back out of Supergirl (This makes it very likely the show will end up on the air, though nothing’s ever for sure at CBS, as the producers of How I Met Your Dad can attest). Berlanti and Adler’s take on Supergirl (they’re writing the pilot together) begins with Krypton refugee (illegal alien, if you’re »


- Joe Adalian

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14 TV and Movie Characters Whom Wilco Helped Grow Up

12 hours ago

When we call Jeff Tweedy and Wilco "dad rock," we're speaking both literally — Tweedy's new album Sukirae features his son Spencer on drums — and figuratively. The music of Wilco has long been the reigning sound of "maturity" in pop culture, soundtracking the moments when countless fictional children and man-children had to learn to grow up and embrace responsibility.  Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), BoyhoodWilco song: "Hate It Here" Life before Wilco song: Hawke's shameless drifter is an enthusiastic if slightly unreliable part-time father, dropping in and out of his children's lives long enough to give them rambling discourses about life, love, and Wilco, whose music he praises during a 2008 camping trip.Life after Wilco song: When he returns to the film a few years later, Mason Sr.'s cleaned up, with a new wife, a new baby, and a new minivan, which he paid for by selling the vintage Pontiac Gto »


- Nate Jones

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20,000 Days on Earth Is an Enthralling Journey Through the World of Rocker Nick Cave

12 hours ago

What the heck do we call this one? British visual artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s film portrait of Australian rocker Nick Cave isn’t really a documentary; it’s too staged and composed, and too crazy, for that. It’s certainly not a concert movie; there’s surprisingly little music in it. It’s not fiction, either; not really. And yet I’m also hesitant to call it nonfiction — the obvious choice – because so much of it feels like a projection of Cave’s own rock-star persona. We’re not getting the real Nick Cave in this movie, but nobody’s really pretending we are.The ostensible idea behind the film — to chronicle Cave’s 20,000th day on this Earth as and his band the Bad Seeds goes about preparing their latest album Push the Sky Away — is only a loose skeleton around which Forsyth and Pollard create »


- Bilge Ebiri

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Alison Bechdel: Winning a Genius Grant ‘Kicks Me Out of the League of Being an Everyday Schlub’

12 hours ago

On Wednesday, Alison Bechdel became only the second graphic book writer to win a MacArthur “Genius” grant — worth $625,000 and a lifetime of bragging. Her graphic memoirs, Fun Home and Are You My Mother?, turned her tortured family history — she had Ocd and liked girls, her mother showed little affection, her closeted father likely killed himself — into multidimensional art. Erudite and beautiful, they demonstrated just how intelligent and uncompromising comics (and coming-out memoirs) could be. We caught up with her via Skype yesterday in Italy, where she’s on a six-week artist’s residency, to talk about the big prize, her next work, and the irresistible charms of Orange Is the New Black.How will this grant affect your life?I have been traveling so much in recent years and I can’t really work on the road, so one of the great things about winning this is I can get »


- Boris Kachka

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How I Met Your Mother Finally Explained ‘The Pineapple Incident’

13 hours ago

It was the longest of all of Himym's long-running mysteries: How did that pineapple end up on Ted Mosby's bedside table in season one's "The Pineapple Incident"? As a new deleted scene from the show's last season reveals, like seemingly everything in Himym's later seasons, the solution revolves around the Captain.Season nine's "Daisy" saw the show trying to answer as many of its lingering mysteries as possible on a final sprint to the finale. In a climax set at the country home of Kyle MacLachlan's aristocratic George van Smoot, the gang learned that Lily was pregnant and that van Smoot had ended up with the Boats Boats Boats lady. (Some of those mysteries were more pressing than others.) In an unaired scene, Ted also learned of the Captain's "old sea captain's tradition" of leaving a pineapple outside his home (a real thing!) which *dramatic zoom* he also employed at his Manhattan townhouse. »


- Nate Jones

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