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Christmas Movie Kids: Where Are They Now?

Christmas movie season is in full swing, and if you’re like us, you’ve got holiday films blasting from your television and Netflix window 24/7. “Timeless” is the term that gets thrown around for the good ones, and it’s often true — except in one respect. Those cute and cuddly kids so often at the center of yuletide tales have, in the years since they staked out a permanent place in your heart, grown up. Some have gone on to successful acting careers. Some dropped out once puberty hit. And one even, God help us, did porn. After the jump, our roundup of the after-Christmas lives of our favorite holiday movie kids. … Read More

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The Real Places Where John Hughes’ Movies Were Shot

Anyone familiar with the filmography of the late John Hughes has heard and seen quite a bit of Shermer, Illinois, the North Shore suburb of Chicago where many of his films were set. However, as Jay and Silent Bob found out in Kevin Smith’s Dogma, Shermer isn’t a real place at all — it was a fictional suburb created entirely by the filmmaker. “The whole notion of Shermer came out of that heterogeneous kind of society, very extreme,” Hughes explained in a 1999 interview. “I mean, at one point I went from a school with 1100 students to one with thirty. I remember this one kid, an eighth-grader, who had his teeth rotted out. Eighth grade. It was like Deliverance. But then at the same time, you’d have the richest kid in town in your school as well, so even in this tiny setup, you had both ends of the economic spectrum, real extremes. I’ve always wanted to write a history of Shermer, because it’d be kind of the history of postwar America. Haven’t got around to it yet, though.”

Unfortunately, he never did. But Shermer has remained a point of fascination for Hughes fans and ’80s kids, and recently, film critic and Hughes enthusiast Brian Orndorf took a pilgrimage to the Chicago area to seek out the sights and sounds of Shermer. He’s posted photos of the locations from several Hughes films, as they are today, on his blog (along with stills of comparable shots from the film). After the jump, we’ve collected a few of our favorites; check out all of them here. … Read More

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Set Up to Fail: A History of Movies That Debuted Against Blockbusters

As you may have heard — if you have watched a television, been to a movie, visited a website, or looked at the side of a bus in the past two months — there’s a motion picture coming out tomorrow called The Avengers, and it is expected to be quite the big hit. What you might not be aware of this that there are two other movies hitting multiplexes this weekend: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a comedy/drama from Shakespeare in Love director John Madden (no, not that John Madden) featuring the Anglophile wet-dream cast of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy; and something called A Little Bit of Heaven, a romantic comedy in which Kate Hudson has cancer, Peter Dinklage is a male prostitute, and Whoopi Goldberg is God. No, seriously.

Those two films could be most diplomatically deemed “counter-programming,” that old Hollywood notion of putting out movies designed to appeal to audiences far different from those of the big blockbusters. The problem is, a movie like The Avengers defies counter-programming; it’s a movie that cuts across demos and marketing quadrants. Everybody wants to see that movie. (I, for one, know far more young women who are interested in seeing The Avengers than another goddamn Kate Hudson movie.) What you often end up with instead are kamikaze movies — films whose release opposite a major, hype-driven blockbuster indicates a competing studio is just giving up and burning off a movie that they have to release sometime (maybe even for contractual reasons), so this is as good a time as any.

There’s a long, strange history to be found in tracking the movies that opened against the sure things; we’ll take a look at a few prime examples after the jump. … Read More

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The Morning's Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. Many of you will probably be happy to hear that Lady Gaga is planning a “very long” media blackout, effective as soon as her recent Next Chapter interview with Oprah airs this Sunday night. Smart move, we think. [via NME]

2. M.I.A. is planning to publish a 192-page “autobiographical monograph in collages”… Read More

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10 Christmas Movie Landmarks You Can Actually Visit

‘Tis the season for rockin’ around the Christmas tree and cruisin’ around suburban neighborhoods, folks. Why? To decide which big empty house to rob, of course! Just kidding — that’s only if you’re the Wet and/or Sticky Bandits. For the rest of us, it’s to enjoy the fantastic light displays in all their tacky glory. For this year’s drive through the lights, why not add a few notorious holiday film locations to your festive route? Who knows, you might even get to meet a real-life Randy Parker! Pile into the family van, crank up the tinselly tunes, and read on for ten Christmas movie landmarks that you can actually visit. Which is your favorite? … Read More

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Terrible Twos: 10 Film Sequels You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

As the poet A. E. Housman elegized, the only way to preserve an unmarred reputation is to die young, if only metaphorically. But it’s hard to quit while you’re at the top of your game, particularly when money is involved. Which is why Molly Ringwald stars in The Secret Life of the American Teenager. And how casinos make money. And how the sequel… and the prequel… and the threequel were born.

Some we can’t complain about; many of our favorite superheroes peaked in their second movies, and the world would be a very different place had J.K. Rowling not stuck around for a round two. But then there are the Molly Ringwalds and the reckless gamblers — and the productions that might have been remembered more fondly had they called it quits instead of persisting with these slapdash, often pitiful, in many cases straight-to-DVD and made-for-TV follow ups, below the jump. … Read More

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Minimalist Typography Film Posters

As big fans of both typography and minimalist film posters, a new series by 28-year-old Swedish illustrator and graphic designer Patrik Svensson seems like it was made specifically for us. “I have always been a fan of designers that integrate with the viewer to create a sort of game together,” he explains. “I always strive to leave some space for the viewer to fill.” Click through for his creative take on films that range from childhood favorites like The Karate Kid and Home Alone to classics like The Shawshank Redemption and The Usual Suspects. … Read More

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