‘The Babadook’ and the Real-Life Terrors of Parental Horror

The Babadook, the gripping new horror film from Australian director Jennifer Kent, is a movie filled with terrifying sequences and things jumping out from the dark, but for this viewer, the scariest scene in it happens in broad daylight. Single mother Ameila (Essie Davis) is at the park, chatting with a friend as her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) frolics on the playground equipment nearby. As the conversation escalates in intensity, Samuel starts yelling for his mummy to watch him. She doesn’t. The music gets more harrowing, the close-ups get tighter, the kid yells louder — and I could barely keep my eyes on the screen. I’ve been at the playground with my kid; I know the danger of zoning out, for even a second. In that scene, and throughout the film, Kent is tapping into something far more unnerving than serial killers or the supernatural: the everyday terror of being a parent. It’s an approach that has produced some of the scariest movies of our time. … Read More

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‘The Good Wife’ Season 6 Episode 10 Recap: “The Trial”

What a fucking mess.

When on its game, The Good Wife is easily one of the most amusing shows on television and the same thing can be said about the show with regards to its handling of its many dramatic moments. If we’ve learned anything from “The Trial” is that where the show fails is at attempting to seamlessly blend the two elements into something akin to harmonious. So disparate are the alternate sides of this week’s episode, its nigh impossible to talk about them as a cohesive whole so let’s break them up. … Read More

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‘The Affair’ Season 1, Episode 7 Recap: “7”

This week on The Affair: We almost get a good episode! At least one-half of one, that is! Maura Tierney continues to be slightly too good for this show and is making a character that feels half-written real and true. … Read More

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‘The Newsroom’ Season 3, Episode 3 Recap: “Main Justice”

We open on last week’s cliffhanger, with Gary “HR Nightmare” Cooper singing Cole Porter and walking in on the FBI. He swears—gotta relish your time on HBO while it’s still there!—and Mac yells about her wedding, but Charlie’s the one who actually gets his act together and does something. While he “calls” ACN’s West Coast office to “set up” a live broadcast of the raid, Don and Jim scramble to set up a functional newsroom, the thing it is their job as producers to do. Maggie shouts empowered stuff at her ex-boyfriends, like “Shut up!” and “Your fly is unzipped!” and “FUCK!,” and the FBI calls off the raid instead of calling Charlie’s bluff. … Read More

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The Short Stories Behind 10 Famous Films

We’ve been anticipating the audiobook release of John McManusStop Breakin Down — the short story collection that won him a prestigious Whiting Writers’ Award, for which he was the youngest recipient. “Here is rage on the page,” the Los Angeles Times wrote of McManus’ stories about “people driven to the brink of endurance and survival.” Writer Dane Elcar narrates the audio version, imbuing the tales with a cinematic quality. The release got us thinking about the ways literature is translated from page to screen and the many short stories that have made the leap to cinema. Here are ten of our favorites for your comparison and perusal. … Read More

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10 Female Surrealists You Should Know

If we go by some of the history books, they were merely lovers, wives, and muses. The surrealist movement is defined by the philosophical, revolutionary personalities that populated it — and many would have us believe they were all men. This review of Hungarian painter Judith Reigl by surrealist founder André Breton sums up the problem with the movement’s patronizing attitude toward its female artists: “It seems so unlikely that the ship sweeping forward could be steered by a woman’s hand that some quite exceptional force must be assumed to be helping to drive it along.” The surrealists aimed to free the unconscious, resulting in dreamlike, illogical scenes. Apparently a woman’s inner world never seemed so terrifying. Continuing our series spotlighting women in male-dominated art movements, here are ten female surrealists you should… Read More

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Awesome Skateboard Art from Pop Culture Greats for a Good Cause

The ever-expanding city of Austin has become one of the cultural hot spots of the United States, but there’s a small town to the east that has a few claims to fame of its own. Taylor, Texas is known for its historic charm and farming communities, but the hometown of golden-age animator Tex Avery (behind cartoon luminaries like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig) will also soon be known for a cool skatepark.

Our friends at Collectors Weekly tipped us off to a project from Austin photographer Brent Humphreys and graphic artist Chris Bilheimer that will raise money to build a skatepark in the rural Texas town. It also keeps “Avery’s antic spirit alive and well in Taylor.” They’re auctioning off an amazing collection of arty skateboard decks from people like Matt Groening (of The Simpsons fame), Gary Panter (the former Emmy-winning set designer for Pee Wee’s Playhouse), Rob Jones (album artist for bands like the White Stripes), and J.J. Sedelmaier (co-creator of “Saturday TV Funhouse” on SNL). It’s part of a non-profit initiative called Project LOOP (Lessons On and Off the Pavement), which provides kids with “lessons in creativity, exercise, and hard work in a real world experience outside the classroom.” The organization also encourages creative professionals to contribute and give back.

If you’d like to do your part, bid on these custom skateboard decks until December 6. Visit Project LOOP for more info on the skatepark fundraiser and their wealth of projects. … Read More

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The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Cameron Diaz

Trailers for the Annie remake featuring a tarted-up Cameron Diaz as the mean Miss Hannigan are cringeworthy (highlighting some of the problems actresses over 40 face), but Diaz has proven to be a gifted comedian so perhaps she stands a chance. It was disappointing to see that SNL followed suit by shoving her into a few tight skirts and some lingerie for tonight’s episode, but Diaz’s energy and professionalism steal the spotlight. This is her first time on the Studio 8H stage since 2005 (she’s hosted three times before), but Diaz doesn’t miss a beat. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars bring the funk in a flashy set. See how it all went down, below. … Read More

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10 Fascinating Films Set in a Single Location

Sisters are reunited at a secluded estate in the woods in Mona Fastvold’s brooding, restrained study of family dysfunction in The Sleepwalker. “The unplanned sibling visit turns into a socially awkward weekend getaway. There’s table banter and after-dinner dancing (to instrumental Yo La Tengo) in the vast, lamp-lit parlor,” writes Jordan Hoffman for The Guardian. “These scenes glide along, evolving into near surrealism once our characters turn in for the night and succumb to the titular somnambulism.” Relying on emotional performances, the remote house serves as the movie’s primary location — a striking manifestation of the sisters’ “self-contained universe” — where the dark family history unravels. We look at other films that find their inspiration from single locations, reflecting the interior world of their characters. … Read More

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The Wolfen Book Covers of Jack London

“He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time,” wrote Jack London in his 1903 classic novel The Call of the Wild. The story centers on a dog named Buck who is sold off and shipped to the Klondike to be trained as a sled dog. The harsh conditions and treatment ignite his primitive, wolflike ways — and he becomes the story’s mythical hero. London’s 1906 novel White Fang finds a wolfdog on the journey to domesticity. The author’s experiences as a “hobo,” sailor, and journalist took him to faraway places — many which become the settings for his stories. “It was in the Klondike I found myself,” he wrote while reflecting on his days in the Yukon Territory. London always had a penchant for dogs and animals, and his cold-weather travels found him surrounded by them. The wolves and dogs of London’s stories made their way to the covers of his books, which we’ve collected in memory of the author. … Read More

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