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‘Before I Disappear': The Best Thanksgiving Weekend Movie No One’s Talking About

The moment, when it comes, is utterly sublime in a way I can’t possibly put into words. It’s a late night in New York. Richie (Shawn Christensen) has been asked by his estranged sister Maggie (Emmy Rossum) to look after his 11-year-old niece Sophia (Fatima Ptacek), who is a bit of a type-A handful. He’s not just distracted; he was literally killing himself when the phone rang, and he’s got a million problems and dangers buzzing around him. Desperate, he takes Sophia to a bowling alley, and in the middle of their conversation, a new song blasts over the PA. “Oh my God, I love this song!” Sophia exclaims, and she scurries off and dances down the lane, and the music gets louder, and suddenly bystanders are tapping their feet, and then the people at the bar are shimmying and the bowlers are dancing and Richie is watching all of this in wide-eyed bewilderment and you can’t blame him because holy shit, this movie could go anywhere. It’s the moment when I realized I had fallen for Before I Disappear, a thrillingly audacious new movie that isn’t getting a fraction of the attention it deserves this holiday weekend. … Read More

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50 Groundbreaking Female Film Artists We’re Thankful For

Too often, women occupy under-appreciated roles in Hollywood, bolstering a system that either takes them for granted or doesn’t celebrate them like it should. The statistics continue to be dismal: women directed only 4.7 percent of studio films between 2009 and 2013. Essential artists like film editor Thelma Schoonmaker and screenwriter/director Elaine May are just a few of the women who deserve your attention — and there are many female filmmakers in the history books who have seemingly been forgotten. In time for Thanksgiving, please enjoy this list of 50 female filmmaking artists we’re thankful… Read More

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Jesus Is “The Best Boyfriend Ever” on Lifetime’s Surprisingly Insightful ‘The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns’

The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns is the anti-reality show reality show. It’s not anti-reality but anti-what we’ve come to know (and enjoy) about the reality genre. There is absolutely no sex or drugs or alcohol. No one is hooking up — any relationships are ended during the first few minutes of the pilot episode, as the girls must remain celibate — and there is not a single man in sight. The cast lives in a peaceful environment where catfights are against the rules. The girls are not competing against each other to find a husband but working together as they all prepare to give themselves to Jesus. The Sisterhood is only technically a reality show, which makes it inherently interesting, but it does slip into reality clichés every once in a while, which allows it to remain compelling to those with no interest in the religious aspects of the show. It sort of works. … Read More

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8 Great, Overlooked Shows From the 2013-2014 TV Season to Catch Up On Over Thanksgiving

So many great new TV series premiere every year that it’s impossible to watch them all, let alone attempt to cover them. A handful of wonderful little shows slipped below the collective radar during the 2013-2014 television season, overshadowed by the bigger shows that we couldn’t stop talking about. But that just means they’re perfect to watch later this week while hiding from your relatives and general Thanksgiving festivities. Here are eight overlooked TV shows to binge on during the long… Read More

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100 Years Later, What Have We Learned From James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’?

Twelve years ago, I inadvertently began a literary ritual that I’ve kept alive to this day. It was late in the first term of my freshman year of college, and I’d been assigned to lead a discussion on James Joyce’s “The Dead,” the devastating final story in his collection Dubliners. Never having read it, I was unaware of the symbolic importance of snow in the story. It happened to be the first snowfall of the year, and by the time I reached the book’s end, my romantic, teenaged soul swooned along with Gabriel’s, as he heard “the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” So, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I now re-read “The Dead” on the first snowfall of every year. … Read More

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The 50 Best Independent Fiction and Poetry Books of 2014

2014 will go down as a landmark year in independent literature, chiefly because a few longstanding “trends” or “developments” are hardening into verifiable traits of fiction and poetry beyond Big Publishing. Independent poetry, in the works of such writers as Claudia Rankine and Andrew Durbin, is becoming more sophisticated in the way it encroaches upon other forms of visual and literary art. In fiction, a greater tendency toward autofictional novels of emotional maturation — typically in a cruel world — is colliding with the arriving generation’s faith in the bending of genres. The increasing confidence these writers have in their forms is beginning to show in the way they assert themselves against an older generation, sure, but it’s also showing up in the quality of the books. Plainly put: line for line, stanza for stanza, independent writing, and therefore independent publishing, is better than it was just a few years… Read More

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50 Great Dark Books for the Dark Days of Winter

We’ve reached the time of year when the days seem impossibly short and the nights never ending. Good if you’re a vampire or like to go to sleep early, less exciting for the rest of us. So what is one to do with all this extra darkness? Well, read some dark books, of course. Because there’s nothing better to cut through the literal gloom than to curl up with some intellectual doom. All you need is a tiny light to see your book by. Read on for 50 gloriously dark novels to read during these dark days. After a while, you may even stop wishing for the light to… Read More

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50 Excellent Fabulist Books Everyone Should Read

Fabulism, it seems, is having a moment — although whether it’s truly a trend is up for debate. Some might say it’s been right there, purring along, all this time, while others might blink and wonder what you’re talking about. Such is always the case with magic. But whether you’re a newbie or an old hat, there are always new corners of the fantastic to discover. So, here you’ll find 50 excellent novels and short story collections by fabulists, fantasists, and fairy-tale-tellers, literary books that incorporate the irreal, the surreal, and the… Read More

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10 Movie Sex Scenes That Will Scar You for Life

There are many factors involved in crafting a great cinematic sex scene. When the lovin’ becomes an expression of who the characters are and doesn’t rely on predictable titillation, the sex is great. However, a well-written scene doesn’t always portray tenderness and passion. Sometimes the best sex scenes are the ones that make us wince. Other times, filmmakers get it all wrong and, well, at least they give us something to talk about. Here are ten we wish we could… Read More

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