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Friday Afternoon Time-Killers for Film Fans

Happy Friday afternoon, everybody! How’s your summer? Big plans for the weekend? More importantly — shouldn’t you be working? Our crack Flavorpill research teams inform us that over 93%* of our daytime traffic consists of people reading the site from work, where their browser window is open behind whatever Excel spreadsheet or TPS Report they’re supposed to be working on, along with Solitaire and Angry Birds and Gawker and the Blake Lively naked pictures (we’re not judging) and that vintage lunchbox that’s been on your eBay watch list for like three days (just buy the damn thing already).

But don’t worry, we’re not gonna rat you out. We totally understand — we’re not really working this afternoon either. C’mon, it’s a Friday afternoon, it’s gorgeous out, who the hell wants to be productive? But even your disposable time on someone else’s dime is precious, so make the most of it. After the jump, we’ve assembled some of today’s best diversions for film fans. Take a glance, click some links, and seize the day.

Martin Scoresese’s A Letter to Elia won a Peabody award for American Masters, so PBS has been nice enough to put the entire film (one hour, followed by a supplemental program of interviews) on their website — a relief, since the only way to see it DVD is to buy the entire $150 Elia Kazan Collection. It is, in a word, marvelous. Scorsese’s documentaries on the films that inspired him (A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, My Voyage to Italy) have a wonderfully conversational quality; contrary to his fast-talking, jittery persona (cultivated in guest appearances and commercials), he speaks softly in his narration, as if whispering to you in the next seat. It’s a passionate, thoughtful, thoroughly enjoyable look at a sometimes-polarizing figure.

If you’ve got more than an hour of online viewing time — first of all, kudos on the good gig. Might be time to hit Netflix, where one of our favorite movies of 2009, Pixar’s utterly charming Up, goes off Instant Viewing tomorrow. It is a film that, according to our research, is only disliked by soulless monsters*. If you haven’t seen it, get over there post-haste. New movies on Instant include Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Chasing Amy, Stone (in which, as Karina Longworth noted at Slate, Robert DeNiro “actually gets off his ass and, like, acts, and no one pays any attention”) and David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom, a tense, terrific family crime epic with dirt on the floor.

Getting into the summertime spirit, Pajiba has rounded up eight TV shows on Netflix Instant to spend your summer with. We are primarily placing it here because we support anything that encourages people to watch Sports Night.

The AV Club has this outstanding video Inventory of horrible old-age makeup in the movies. While we would have personally gone with For the Boys, the video certainly confirmed that our long-ago choice to never see Bicentennial Man was a wise one indeed.

Some good reads: The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott with an outstanding mini-think piece on “boring” movies (which we totally agree with, while still standing behind this. We’re complicated!). GQ has an oral history of the making of Terrence Malick’s Badlands . Film.com’s Elisabeth Rappe on Quentin Tarantino and his reliance on homage. Roger Ebert on D-Box and gimmickry.

This Daily Show clip on the Trump-Palin pizza date is not film-related in any way, but we couldn’t resist including it.

And finally, on a more musical note, the MusiCares all-star tribute to Neil Young hit DVD and Blu-ray this week (review here). As with any show like that, the results are fairly uneven, but the indisputable highlight is Ben Harper’s electrifying performance of “Ohio”:

Have a great weekend.

* This is a made up fact.

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