The Johnny Depp Backlash Is Justified: He’s Lost His ’90s Cool

In a recent article for The A.V. Club, writer Jesse Hassenger argues that the Johnny Depp backlash is “nonsense,” because for the past decade, since he’s been a big movie star with a brand like Pirates of the Caribbean as his focal point, he’s had the same ratio of hits to duds. … Read More

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Flavorwire’s Guide to Indie Flicks to See in October

October is upon us, and the race whose name we dare not speak is getting competitive: this month sees the release of such awards bait as 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, The Fifth Estate, All Is Lost, and, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. (What? It could happen — they love it when actors age up.) Meanwhile, it’s a quieter month for indie releases, but there are still several smaller pictures worth seeking out; our recommendations for the month are after the jump. … Read More

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Directors Who Fell Out of Love With Film

We discovered earlier this week that David Lynch has been feeling a bit glum about the current state of the film industry. Inland Empire was his last major movie, now already seven years old, and Lynch isn’t sure when his next film will present itself. The surreal director has only ten feature films to his credit. It seems like an absurdly small number when considering the scope of Lynch’s influence. But he isn’t the only major director who fell out of love with the… Read More

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A Brief Survey of Famous Authors’ Unpublished Books

Earlier this week, Avi Steinberg wrote a profile on Maurice Sendak’s final publication — the posthumous My Brother’s Book, which was released last month. In his essay for The New Yorker, Steinberg also tells the story of Sendak’s first unpublished book that was written when Sendak was seven. They Were Inseparable was a collaboration with the author’s 12-year-old brother, dedicated to their 16-year-old sister whom they idolized dearly. The early Sendak tale may never see a standalone release, which led us to wonder about the numerous manuscripts by famous authors floating somewhere in the ether. After the jump, we briefly examine 10 unpublished works by well-known writers. What others belong on the list? … Read More

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Sundance 2012: The Deals, The Awards, and That Kubrick Doc

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival drew to a close over the weekend with a flurry of additional distribution deals, as well as a Saturday night awards ceremony. The fest’s out-of-nowhere buzz hit Beasts of the Southern Wild was among the big winners, nabbing not only the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, but the US Dramatic Excellence in Cinematography award. The Documentary Grand Jury Prize went to The House I Live In, an examination of the war on drugs from director Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight). The Israeli film The Law in These Parts won the World Cinema Jury Prize for Documentary, while the Latin American musical drama Violeta Went to Heaven won the Dramatic World Cinema Jury Prize.

True to my history of excellent scheduling judgment, your humble correspondent saw not one of those films during my eight days in Park City, though I did take in — and greatly enjoy — the US Audience award winners The Invisible War (Documentary) and The Surrogate (Drama); the latter film also won a richly-deserved US Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting. My favorite film of the fest, Mike Birbiglia’s warm, winning comedy Sleepwalk With Me, won the Best of NEXT Audience Award; another favorite, the wry time-travel comedy/drama Safety Not Guaranteed, won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. … Read More

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Hells Angels Photos and Self-Portraits by Hunter S. Thompson

In 1965, the legendary Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson scored his first big break. As an assignment for The Nation, Hunter lived with the most notorious motorcycle gang in the United States. Random House published Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs in 1966. Hunter’s year with the club ended in a “stomping” — the Angels beat him up, allegedly when his editor wouldn’t share the profits from the story.

Check out some casual shots of the outlaws setting off for a ride, dusted in brutal bravado and motorcycle exhaust, taken by Hunter himself. Observe Hunter’s self-portrait with his Hell’s Angels black-eye. Then, take a short trip to Big Sur in picturesque California, where the literary rebel worked as a security guard and penned The Rum Diary after returning from Puerto Rico and his long jaunt as a traveling journalist working for US publications abroad. These are just a few pages from the icon’s storied existence, but they’re pretty exciting. … Read More

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The Best Book Adaptations of 2011 Ranked from Best to Worst

With David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hitting theaters today and Spielberg’s Hergé-inspired The Adventures of Tintin arriving at the movies tomorrow, we have book adaptations on the brain. It’s no secret that we’re avid readers here, but we can also appreciate great cinema inspired by books and other printed sources. You’ll often hear people discussing why a page to screen translation doesn’t work. That’s understandable since Hollywood often appears to be out of original ideas, turning to the shelves in order to make a fast buck. When it is successful, however, most lit fiends are thankful for filmmakers that show reverence to the source material, but made smart sacrifices that make sense for a visual narrative. We looked back at several of the year’s book to movie adaptations and ranked them in order from best to worse. Let us know your picks below. … Read More

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Open Thread: Did Johnny Depp Step in It?

The facts are these: Last weekend, The Guardian ran an interview with Johnny Depp, promoting the European release of his Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary. Decca Aitkenhead’s profile begins with the line “In the weeks leading up to this interview, I began to think there must be some law that makes it illegal not to love Johnny Depp,” which has turned out to be an ironically specious statement, since this very piece has ended up pissing off an entire Midwestern city. … Read More

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10 of the Best Drunken Movie Performances

“The best research for playing a drunk is being a British actor for 20 years,” says Michael Caine. That hasn’t stopped plenty of American actors from giving it a shot. This week, Johnny Depp appears in The Rum Diary, based on a typically boozy (not to mention druggy) book by Hunter Thompson. Even if you try to ignore the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Depp has had years of experience to hone his on-screen stagger. But he’s not the first – and definitely not the craziest – actor to bring the party to work. Below, we revisit some of the best drunken performances committed to film. … Read More

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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. In what many UK papers are calling “the real Slumdog Millionaire,” 27-year-old Sushil Kumar, a poor government clerk from Bihar, has become the first person to win 50 million rupees (worth over $1 million), on an Indian game show. [via Guardian]

2. Earlier in the week, Keith Richards and Johnny Depp played… Read More

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