Woody Allen

2014’s Injustices Weren’t Backlash — They Were The Status Quo

It was a wave of protest too striking to be ignored: professional athletes donning T-shirts to pay tribute to young black men killed by the police — and demand justice for their killers. In Cleveland, the T-shirt worn during warm-ups by Browns player Andrew Hawkins last weekend named two local young men who both had been holding toy guns when they were mowed down by cops, John Crawford and Tamir Rice. Hawkins wore the shirt in honor of his small son. This is how the police behaved in both those incidents: John Crawford’s girlfriend was interrogated until she broke down in tears, before she even knew of her loved one’s death. Tamir Rice’s sister was handcuffed and put in the back of a paddy wagon while her brother lay dying. … Read More

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Why Did It Take Chris Rock So Long to Make a Great Movie Like ‘Top Five’?

The moment he dropped his 1996 breakthrough stand-up special Bring the Pain, Chris Rock was dubbed the heir apparent of Richard Pryor, one of the few comics on the scene to approach the king’s potent mixture of social commentary, personal confession, and performative brilliance. But that wasn’t all they had in common; Pryor spent most of his film career failing to find a vehicle that captured his unique gifts, and Rock has experienced much of the same struggle. “Richard Pryor has two good movies out of 30 or 40,” Rock told Rolling Stone. “Rodney Dangerfield had one. So it’s easy to look at history and go, ‘Maybe I’m not going to get one’… But I guess you’ve got to make your own history.” And Rock has done just that with his new film Top Five, writing, directing, and starring in a picture that plays like a cross between Stardust Memories, Funny People, and Before Sunset, but refracted through the prism of Rock’s distinctive comic sensibility. So why did it take him so long to make a movie worthy of his talent? … Read More

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10 Literary Misquotations You Can Buy Right Now

It all started with the T-shirt below, which exhibits a feminist appropriation of an Ayn Rand quote. Big news! Détournement! Or is it? It seems that the original phrasing was twisted a little — edited, if you will — into the form you see on the shirt. The words on the shirt, in other words, are not the words in the book. The quotation on the T-shirt is a misquotation.

But any curmudgeon can hurl a list of misquotations at the reading public. Instead, we’ve decided to gather a list of items featuring misquotations that you can buy right now, just in time to round out your misquotation wardrobe or library this holiday season. … Read More

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The Greatest Silent Comedians of the Sound Era

Attention cinephiles: your new must-have Blu-ray box set is Criterion’s Jacques Tati Collection, which assembles the six features and seven shorts of the exquisite French comic writer/actor/director, offering an immediate refuge from the cruelties of this ugly world. The first of them, the disarmingly lovely Jour de Fête, was released in 1949, which also makes Tati a bit of an anomaly: a performer leaning far more on physical than verbal comedy, yet working well within the sound era. The introduction of sound in the late ‘20s was, among many other things, a demarcation line for screen comedy: most of the silent icons struggled to make the transition (or chose not to make it at all; Chaplin was still making mostly-silent movies like Modern Times in 1936), as studios rushed to fill their talking pictures with talking comedians from the Broadway and vaudeville stage. But a few comic actors through the years have managed to preserve the invaluable comic tool of silence, even as sound raged around them. … Read More

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50 Best Films About Writers, Ranked

Hollywood is famous for its treatment of writers. They are the low man on the totem pole, the person banned from the set, the guy who wrote the Great American novel drinking himself to death in Los Angeles, rewriting dumb scripts. It’s funny, as Hollywood is also obsessed with portraying “writers” on screen. Flavorwire’s definitive, ranked list of the 50 Best Films About Writers of all time features the requisite mix of biopics, book adaptations (what’s up Stephen King and John Irving), foreign films that actually feature female writers, po-mo meta surrealist studies of madness (very frequent), and the works of Woody… Read More

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50 Cultural Icons on Their Favorite Books

Everybody loves a good book. Yes, everybody — even the rich, famous and culturally relevant. And since there’s nothing better than a book recommendation from someone you already idolize, why not check out which ones they count as their favorites? Maybe you’ll wind up finding out that you have even more in common with Lady Gaga than you thought. Click through to find out which books your favorite cultural icons, from Bill Murray to Joan Didion to Nas, love best — and get to padding that reading… Read More

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10 Great Movies That Appear In 10 Other Great Movies

There are all sorts of reasons to see Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (debuting this week on Blu-ray, via The Criterion Collection), but here’s the one that finally clinched it for me: when they go see it in Middle of Nowhere. By inserting the earlier film into a later one, Nowhere’s director, Ava DuVernay, isn’t just telling us something about the kind of people who inhabit her story; she’s also savvily commenting on the kind of story she’s telling. And she’s not the only filmmaker to employ this very clever trick. … Read More

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Is Lena Dunham Really the Millennial Woody Allen?

Lena Dunham has a book out very, very soon, and you know what that means: it’s time for cover stories and blog posts and an entire cultural conversation about the auteur of an HBO comedy series, so let’s strap in. First out of the gate is the New York Times, with a cover story entitled “Lena Dunham Is Not Done Confessing,” which has prompted a bit of hand-wringing around the ol’ Twittersphere — not because of its generally Dunham-positive tone, or for any particularly reward-worthy photos, but because profile writer Meghan Daum had the audacity to (frequently!) compare Ms. Dunham to Woody Allen, and how dare she. … Read More

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