A Salute to an Important Anniversary in Film History (Besides Citizen Kane)
May 1 marks one of the most important dates in film history, particularly this year. 75 years ago Sunday, on May 1, 1941, Citizen Kane premiered at the Palace Theatre in New York. The film, considered by many to be the greatest ever made, has a well-earned place in cinema’s pantheon, and if you’d like to mark the anniversary, Slate’s Jacob T. Swinney has you covered with this excellent supercut of other films’ homages to Welles’ masterpiece.
But even if Citizen Kane was relatively unheralded at the time of its release, it’s been struggling to hold up under a giant pile of laurels for decades now. So maybe it’s time to celebrate another anniversary, one history has—until now—overlooked. I’m talking about the May 1, 1966 release of the barely-even-good-enough-to-be-mediocre Woody Woodpecker short “Practical Yolk.” It’s hard to believe it’s been fifty years since Woody was first chased around a badly-drawn pyramid by some sort of archeologist lady, but check your calendar—it has! What’s more, unlike Kane’s premiere, May 1, 1966 was important globally, not just to New Yorkers. As Americans across the country were barely chuckling at Woody’s escapades and planning to arrive at the theater later next time, the Soviet Union staged a massive May Day parade, complete with rocket launchers and tanks.
So this May 1, Slate salutes both anniversaries with a sort of joint birthday party: a special screening of “Practical Yolk” in badly-dubbed Russian. Travel back in time with us to 1966, when Citizen Kane was only 25 years old, Orson Welles was 50, tanks were rolling across Red Square, and “Practical Yolk” was brand new but also had somehow already been dubbed in Russian. Here’s to director Paul J. Smith, writer Cal Howard, the anonymous Russian voice actors who simply talk over the original soundtrack, and of course, the workers of the world. None of you exactly turned out to be Orson Welles, but then again, who does?
See the Horrifying Attention to Detail in Paul Rudd and Jimmy Fallon’s Styx Video
In a world where most attempts to recreate the past are pretty half-assed, it’s a great relief to see someone put the work in. That’s just what Jimmy Fallon and Paul Rudd did on Friday night, when they aired a wonderful shot-for-shot remake of Styx’s 1981 music video for “Too Much Time On My Hands.” Every shot, every costume, every facial expression: it’s all here, everything we’ve all loved so dearly about the Styx video for “Too Much Time On My Hands” for more than three decades. If you somehow haven’t memorized the original video, hold on to your hat and press play:
What the ’70s Trailer for The Nice Guys Gets Wrong About ’70s Trailers
There’s a new “’70s Retro Trailer” for Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, and it’s sort of fun, until you start thinking about its supposed provenance. The filmmakers denoted the 1970s by giving the trailer the magenta-shifted colors typical of faded Eastmancolor film prints, common in the 1970s—so far so good. But the colors mean this print is meant to have been sitting around fading for decades. And yet somehow in that entire time, it never got a speck of dirt or a scratch on it. What it did get was video tracking errors, so at some point after the colors had faded, it was transferred to tape, and then that tape was left to age long enough to develop its own problems. The weird thing aboutthat is the trailer’s not pan-and-scan or even letterboxed, it’s HD. So what kind of analog tape is it meant to have been stored on?
Encyclopedia Brown would have a field day—even Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe’s inept private eyes could expose the trailer as a forgery in an afternoon. But what makes a real 1970s trailer? To answer this question, we’ve assembled five of the finest examples of the form to serve as references the next time someone tries to put one over on the audience. Authenticity guaranteed.
Elisabeth Moss Will Star in The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu
Elisabeth Moss has been cast in the lead role of a ten-episode adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece The Handmaid’s Tale, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Moss will play Offred, the handmaid of the title, one of a class of women forced to bear children for the ruling elite of a grim fundamentalist dictatorship known as the Republic of Gilead. The show, to be written by Bruce Miller, was ordered straight-to-series by Hulu, which continues to expand its original programming. The Handmaid’s Tale is the first collaboration between Hulu and MGM Television; Miller, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, and Warren Littlefield will executive produce, while Atwood herself will serve as a consulting producer.
Atwood’s novel, first published in 1985, was already adapted for film in 1990 by Harold Pinter and Volker Schlöndorff, in a production that starred Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, and Robert Duvall. It’s also been made into a radio drama, a play, an opera, a ballet, and a one-woman stage show. Something about a story in which Christian fundamentalists use the threat of Islamic terrorism to consolidate power and control women’s bodies seems to resonate, for some reason. The show is scheduled to debut in 2017; the Republic of Gilead itself has no firm release date.
Here Are Some Face-Melting Prince Performances Uploaded to YouTube in the Week Since His Death
The most brilliantly, gloriously freaky of control freaks, Prince had zero tolerance for fans uploading and sharing his music and videos online. But since his death on April 21, a deluge of fantastic live footage has hit YouTube—and so far, most of the uploads seem to be sticking. There’s no telling if this represents a permanent planetary realignment or simply a bittersweet interregnum while his estate pulls itself together, but in the meantime, please to enjoy the enpurpling of YouTube via a sampling of clips below.
Here he is playing “Purple Rain” at the 1985 American Music Awards, the same night he didn’t show up for “We Are the World,” willing his guitar into all kinds of indecent contortions and deploying his full range of shouts, screams, growls, croons, coos, and iridescence; when the time comes, he doesn't drop the mic—he kicks over the mic stand.
Speaking of mic stands, Prince has sex with one after performing a striptease in this spectacular nine-and-a-half-minute version of “Head.”
Here is the legendary 1983 benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Company at Minneapolis’ First Avenue—the hometown venue later immortalized in Purple Rain—where Wendy Melvoin made her performing debut with the Revolution and where the band played several soon-to-be Purple Rain classics for the first time live as well as a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.”
Here’s what Sam Adams in Slate called the “Dionysian revelry” of “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” from the Sign o' the Times concert film, featuring Prince in a deep-cut fringed jumpsuit trading places with Sheila E on drums.
Here’s an insane cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” with a guitar solo that would make Jimmy Page rue the day he was born and that should get its own New York Times oral history.
Here’s his entire 1991 Arsenio Hall appearance, including “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Kiss,” “Cream,” “Purple Rain,” “Daddy Pop,” a bunch of costume changes, a full repertoire of splits, and a lot of screaming fans (Arsenio included).
Here’s one of the sweetest finds in the current YouTube trove: “Diamonds and Pearls” and “Baby I’m a Star” from the 1991 Special Olympics opening ceremonies, held in Minneapolis.
And here’s one of the simplest and quietest: Prince just playing piano during a rehearsal, the breeze blowing through his hair.
The Week in Culture, “Sorry I Ain’t Sorry” Edition
“As a gather ’round! moment of living-room excitement, the premiere of Beyoncé’s Lemonade on HBO on Saturday evening was reminiscent of the 1980s debuts of the extended Michael Jackson video mini-dramas for ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad,’ ” Slate’s Carl Wilson wrote of this week’s seismic cultural event, the debut of a new album from Queen B. Though she’s created a whole new form, the visual album, Wilson points out that purely as music, Lemonade may not quite reach the heights of her previous, self-titled album. Of course, there’s so much more to Lemonade than music: Ruth Graham read the album as a shrewd act of gossip management, Aisha Harris explored the competing strains of radicalism and conservatism in the music and the images, Mark Joseph Stern pointed out the way one (triumphantly destructive) scene references an obscure ’90s art film, and Jordan Weissmann asked what Lemonade means for Tidal, Jay Z’s streaming service.
But even the star power of Beyoncé wasn’t enough to drown out the continued remembrance and mourning of Prince. Simon Doonan celebrated the artist’s singular style—and penchant for black panties—and recounted a few fond memories of working with His Purple Highness. (For a window display of the artist, he writes, “We ended up using a teen girl mannequin, but only after giving her a double mastectomy.”) Jack Hamilton reminded us that Prince was a straight-up god on the guitar. And in the wake of the revelation that Prince left no will, Helaine Olen looked into the future of the artist’s estate.
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What’s Wrong With Game of Thrones’ Dorne Plot?
Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones’ most recent episode.
Dorne! Why are you so terrible? Since we were introduced to the kingdom at the beginning of Game of Thrones’ fifth season, nearly every scene set in Westeros’ southernmost realm has been a dull slog, unencumbered by things like complex characters, exciting action sequences, or meaningful conflict. Sunday night’s premiere saw the brutal murder of half the Dornish plot’s characters, and it was still less interesting than a subsequent scene where a woman took off a necklace. In a fandom where even the smallest controversy can set off a massive internet flame-war, the people are united on this one issue: Please, no more Dorne.
It all started out so promisingly, too. Our first glimpse of Dorne came in the swaggering character of Prince Oberyn Martell, who arrived at King’s Landing in Season 4 with the elegant hauteur of a Real Housewife. As embodied by Pedro Pascal, our Dornishman was as juicy and pulpy as a ripe blood orange, and he had only one mission: to stir shit up. Oberyn brought his bastard paramour to a royal wedding. He turned Littlefinger’s brothel into his own personal playground. He risked his life in trial by combat, just to troll the Lannister establishment. Sure, the end wasn’t pretty, but the beginning and middle—what a ride!
The rest of the Martells were due to arrive on screen the next season, and anticipation ran high. Book fans quickly filled everyone in on the background: Dorne was a desert kingdom that had resisted the Targaryens for hundreds of years. It had its own laws that gave women the same inheritance rights as men. Its people ate spicy food, drank delicious wine, and practiced all sorts of freaky sex stuff. How could you mess that up?
Drake’s Views: Your Track-by-Track Guide
After almost two years of teases, Drake’s fourth official album is here at last, and it’s a monster, clocking in at 82 minutes. But what does it sound like? Who worked on it? And what, exactly, is troubling Aubrey Graham’s mind now? We break down all 20 tracks below.
Rihanna Reunites with Calvin Harris for “This Is What You Came For”
It’s been five years since Rihanna and Scottish DJ Calvin Harris struck gold with their smash hit “We Found Love,” and that hiatus has been worth the wait, it seems: The two have finally paired up again with a new single, “This Is What You Came For.” The track marks Rihanna’s return to bouncier electronic pop after her considerably edgier Anti and is already a probable contender for song of the summer—it may even be a stepping stone on her path to breaking the Beatles' record number of No. 1 hits:
Oh No, the Puppies Are Back for the 2016 Hugo Awards—and As Angry As Ever
The puppies have returned. How could that sentence portend anything foul or wicked? And yet it does—science-fiction writer and publisher Vox Day’s followers are the least cute puppies that ever puppied. You may remember them from 2015, when they hijacked the nominations for that year’s Hugo Awards, the closest thing the sci-fi and fantasy community has to the Oscars. Convinced that the genre had eschewed swashbuckling space opera in favor of politically correct, scoldy garbage, these “activists” proposed a slate of “corrective” titles and whipped up enough support among a conservative niche of Hugo voters to get them on the ballot (pushing more “literary” and more “progressive” nominees off).
Campaigns for individual books or authors at the Hugos are nothing new. Yet the puppies’ ideologically driven movement, which drew on the tactics and talking points of Gamergaters, struck a lot of people as unprecedented. When the pups positioned their nominees as a rebuke to the women, people of color, and LBGTQ folks seeking a place in the science-fiction/fantasy world, that coalition struck back. Voters opted to give “no award” in the five categories wholly overtaken by puppy nominees.
Unlike men, not all puppies are created equal. The especially virulent Rabid Puppies, led by unsavory bigot Vox Day, who is extremely paranoid about Aztecs, have made it their mission to boot SJWs (“social justice warriors”) out of science fiction and fantasy. The Sad Puppies at least pretend to a more moderate agenda: They’d like to see the genre recover its adventurous, upbeat roots. (In practice, though, this means spending less time fretting over diversity and discrimination.) Notable Sad Puppies include authors Brad Torgerson and Larry Correia. Notable Rabid Puppies include, of course, Vox Day, whose noxious beliefs and writings could sustain whole religions of malevolent psychosis. He’s called the award-winning black novelist N.K. Jemisin an “ignorant half-savage,” adding that “unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence to be found anywhere on the planet that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support from those white males.” Day has also deplored women’s suffrage and suggested that marital rape is an oxymoron, as “marriage grants consent on an ongoing basis.”
So now it is 2016, and the saga continues. This time, in an effort to distance themselves from last year’s bad press, the Sad Puppies have published a list of “recommendations” rather than flogging their own ballot. But the Rabid Puppies are madder than ever. Their campaign has resulted in 64 out of the 81 titles they put forward being shortlisted. One of these books is called “Space Raptor Butt Invasion,” by erotica scribe Chuck Tingle, author of such science fiction pearls as “Taken by the Gay Unicorn Biker” and, most recently, “Slammed in the Butt by My Hugo Award Nomination.” (Audible narration is available for all three. For the more politically-minded, Tingle also offers “Feeling the Bern in My Butt.”) Writes Day on his blog: “Let’s face it, there are just three words to describe the only event that might happen in 2016 that I can imagine would be more spectacularly awesome than ‘Space Raptor Butt Invasion’ winning a Hugo Award this year, and those three words are ‘President-elect Donald Trump.’”
As Michael Schaub observes in the Los Angeles Times, the Puppies’ self-mythology here as Hugo provocateurs doesn’t totally hold up. “Tingle is a popular figure among a wide range of readers,” he notes, “not just Puppy-affiliated ones.” A fair number of science fiction and fantasy folks seem delighted, not offended, by the Butt bard’s success. Yet other nominations—including several for Day himself, one an essay called “SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police”—fall more neatly into gross men’s rights activist territory. One question remains: How do actual puppies feel about all this? Surely not very good at all.