The 1980s Board Game You Had Nightmares About
What, you didn’t have nightmares about board games during your 1980s childhood? Well the fine folks known as Dark Igloo clearly did—or at least they remember all those weird commercials one used to see for bizarre children’s entertainments, and they know how to rummage through your subconscious (OK, my subconscious).
The Short Films of Spike Jonze—and What They Can Tell Us About Her
Spike Jonze began production on Her in 2012, but in some ways he has been working on the movie for more than a decade. While the sci-fi romance is singular as a feature (and has been praised to the heavens, with New York’s David Edelstein calling it “the best film in years”), its unusual setting—call it the uncanny valley—is not new territory for Jonze: He has been exploring it for years in all his best shorts, such as the Ikea commercial Lamp (2002) and the 30-minute film I’m Here (2010).
Those shorts now feel like rehearsals for Her, and they are among the best places to gather insight into Jonze’s work. After all, while Her is his fourth feature, it’s the first based on his own original screenplay. (Being John Malkovich and Adaptation were written by Charlie Kaufman; Jonze and Dave Eggers adapted Where the Wild Things Are from the book by Maurice Sendak.) For fans interested in how Jonze came up with something as strange and beguiling as Her, Jonze’s shorts are the starting point. Below you will find a survey of all of Jonze’s fiction shorts, and what they can tell us about his new movie.
You’re Doing It Wrong: Tamales
Making tamales is a criminally overlooked Christmas Eve tradition in the United States. Tamales are common Christmas fare in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, and in regions of this country with large Latino populations. But, in spite of periodic newspaper, magazine, and radio features about tamales in late December, the cornmeal dumplings have never caught on among the majority of Americans who celebrate Christmas. That’s a shame, because tamales are very possibly the best food you can make around Christmastime.
This is because making tamales is as much a craft as it is a culinary endeavor. They require some special materials and a fair amount of counter or table space. You’ll get your hands messy. They’re fun to make in groups (especially groups that include children). They encourage creativity: Anything you can chop or purée, you can put inside a tamale. And your heart will swell—rather like the Grinch’s after the Whos’ rendition of “Welcome Christmas” in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas—when you see the beautiful results.
Lauryn Hill Performs “Ex-Factor,” and It’s Electrifying
With her legal troubles seemingly behind her, Lauryn Hill has gotten back to touring, and the reviews have been glowing. Yesterday, the singer shared an electrifying performance from one of the recent concerts: a rousing rendition of "Ex-Factor," with a heavy reggae accompaniment in place of the original, more subdued R&B arrangement.
The nearly 12-minute peformance is worth every second, rising to an intense, emotional finale and proving that when it comes to performing, Hill has still got it.
The Wolf of Bedford Falls
This fake-trailer riff on The Wolf of Wall Street and It’s a Wonderful Life, created by Owen Weber, serves two worthy purposes: 1) It’s fairly amusing, at least to me, and 2) it inadvertently highlights, for those who have never noticed, that the Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart classic is a darker, sexier movie than it typically gets credit for.
Cringe-Worthy French McDonald’s Ads Try, Fail to Poke Fun at Americans
Eater this week draws our attention to a series of McDonald’s TV spots that have been running in France since November. The ads promote limited-edition burgers made with American-style bread, since everyone knows that if there’s one thing America does better than France, it’s bread. One of the sandwiches is a cheeseburger served on a bagel, an emphatically non-kosher combination that seems particularly nonsensical given the bagel’s proud Jewish heritage. As hamfisted (sorry) as that culinary mashup is, the commercial for the sandwich is even worse than the sandwich itself:
Will the Next Planet of the Apes Movie Be as Good as the Last One?
When Rise of the Planet of the Apes arrived in 2011, it managed to do something few resurrected movie franchises have pulled off: It was surprisingly good. The film, starring James Franco as scientist Will Rodman and Andy Serkis as the striking, charismatic chimpanzee leader, Caesar, was briskly paced and had dazzling action sequences, including the memorable climactic scene on the Golden Gate bridge (even if they did exaggerate the number of apes likely residing in the San Francisco area).
For the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, only Serkis returns to the main cast, with a new ensemble headed by Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke. The teaser doesn’t offer much in the way of action sequences, but the tone is clear: This may be the most harrowing film in the series yet.
A Movie About Kubrick Faking the Moon Landing? Yes, Please.
When the latest “Black List” of unproduced screenplays beloved by Hollywood execs was announced yesterday, one title jumped off the page, at least for me: 1969: A Space Odyssey, or How Kubrick Learned to Stop Worrying and Land on the Moon. As anyone who has seen Room 237 knows, there is a conspiracy theory of long standing that Stanley Kubrick helped fake the moon landing. Here, to judge from its title—which, of course, pays homage to two Kubrick classics—was a screenplay that took that crazy notion and ran with it. Sounds fun!
So I emailed the screenwriter, Stephany Folsom.
My Brush With Fame
In 1975, when I was 7, I did some commercials with my mom and brother. I’d never seen any of them until this Thanksgiving when one of my older sisters surprised us with a DVD of an ad for Aim toothpaste that I was in.
My mom was a news correspondent whose career at the networks had ended, and she helped support the family through giving speeches, writing a book, and doing commercials. My brother and I were included in the ads because, even though she had been the first woman news correspondent for CBS 15 years earlier, it was still a requirement that she also be a mother in charge of her children’s dental hygiene.
The Terrible Die Hard That Might Have Been
If Die Hard is rightly among your favorite Christmas movies, you'll likely get a kick out of this seasonally appropriate new trailer made of flubs and outtakes from the '80s classic. It was created for Slacktory by OneMinuteGalactica, who previously brought us the very funny Star Wars and Avengers blooper trailers. Enjoy.