Room 104 Samuel

(Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?)

If there’s one lesson to be learned from this week’s Room 104, it’s this: never go with a cult priest to a second location. In “The Knockandoo,” a fragile woman is hoping to leave this world for a higher plane of existence – and she’s paid a questionable “practitioner” to help get her there. Things don’t go exactly according to plan, thanks to a surprise appearance by the titular Knockandoo.

Read More »

Room 104 Pizza Boy Review

(Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?)

Last week, HBO introduced us to Room 104 with one especially creepy kid. (Or was it kids?) But in the second episode, there are no children to be found. Just a really horny couple and their pizza delivery man.

Naturally, there’s more to it than that. “Pizza Boy” follows the familiar beats of a cliched story only to completely turn it on its head in the final five minutes. There’s betrayals, lies, and a menacing James Van Der Beek dance. But first, we need to discuss the strangest thing in the motel room this week.

Read More »

Brigsby Bear

The demanding Saturday Night Live schedule leaves cast members with little time to themselves. A typical week is consumed with all-night writing sessions, lengthy table reads, marathon rehearsals, and a million last-minute adjustments. So when the players do have some down time, they better use it wisely.

Since many SNL players harbor dreams of being the next Eddie Murphy or Will Ferrell, a lot of them spend their breaks filming a new stand-up special or a role in a mainstream comedy. But not Kyle Mooney. Last week, his movie Brigsby Bear opened in limited release. The quirky Sundance comedy is about a young man obsessed with a children’s fantasy show that was made only for him. Mooney co-wrote the screenplay and stars as James Pope.

It would be safe to call Brigsby Bear a passion project – countless publications already have. But Mooney isn’t alone in his pursuit of passion projects. A few of his colleagues have also written and starred in their own films, ones that were never destined for a wide audience or a big payday but that clearly meant a great deal to their creators. How did we get to this current wave of SNL indie auteurism? It seems to have started a few cycles back.

Read More »

room 104 review 1

(Each week, we’ll kick off discussion about Room 104 by answering one simple question: what’s the strangest thing in Room 104?)

At first glance, Room 104 doesn’t seem like an especially noteworthy place. It can best be described as “beige.” Beige wallpaper, beige curtains, and beige carpet cover the drab motel room. But there’s something special about Room 104, which a traumatized babysitter learned the hard way in the series premiere of HBO’s new series.

The stories in each episode of Room 104 won’t necessarily connect at all. Creators Mark and Jay Duplass have promised an anthology series akin to The Twilight Zone in their new show. But they will all feature this room, which may just have supernatural qualities.

Read More »

Exploring Edgar Wright Movie References

Every director claims to be a movie geek. But there’s movie geeks, and then there’s Edgar Wright. The director, who casually drops lists of his 1000 favorite films when he’s not working, seems to view movie references as a bit of a sport. If you’re not spotting at least a dozen influences or outright homages in his movies, you probably need to rewind – and if you’re watching his earlier films like Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, just give up trying to count.

While Wright has increasingly been moving away from overt name-checks in his movies, he still manages to bury familiar score snippets, costume choices, and plot threads in all of his work. Here are just a few.

Read More »

Rough Night Trailer

A dead stripper, a couple of swingers, and a Human Centipede joke. Sounds like the ingredients for a new Hangover movie, right? But it’s actually the plot of Rough Night, the new bachelorette party gone bad comedy opening this weekend.

A female-fronted film with raunch and revelry shouldn’t feel like an anomaly in 2017, yet somehow, it still does. Despite the box office success of Bad Moms, Trainwreck, and almost every comedy Melissa McCarthy has made, each movie of this kind tends to arrive with an odd sense of novelty. Or, at the very least, skepticism.

So why is it that movies like Rough Night – and Girls Trip, which opens just a month later – are still met with curiosity? The reaction is rooted in history.

Read More »

wonder woman tv movie 2

For nearly 42 years, Lynda Carter was the only recognizable live-action Wonder Woman. Her image has endured as TV reboots have died in development and film adaptations have struggled to hold down screenwriters and stars. She’s about to get some long overdue company from Gal Gadot, as the first ever Wonder Woman feature film debuts this weekend. But Carter was never actually alone. She was actually the second Wonder Woman to hit television screens, but her predecessor was far less successful.

One year before Carter’s Wonder Woman series debuted on ABC, the network tried an entirely different pilot for the comic book icon. It starred former tennis pro Cathy Lee Crosby as Wonder Woman, alias Diana Prince. Like Carter’s iteration, Crosby’s Wonder Woman sported a pair of gold bracelets and fought international crime. But she was missing a few key character details. She didn’t wear a tiara or star-spangled shorts. She had blond hair instead of brown. Most crucially, she didn’t have any actual powers. Just a really mean back kick.

ABC introduced this strange Wonder Woman to audiences through an extended pilot running just over an hour. It aired on a Tuesday night in March of 1974 as the network’s “Movie of the Week.” The ratings weren’t bad, but the producers decided to scrap a potential series and go back to square one. This baffling, bizarre little TV movie was the only survivor of their initial concept, one that fundamentally misunderstood Wonder Woman’s greatest qualities and true identity.

Read More »

writer's strike.pngAt this point, your memories of the 2007-2008 WGA strike might be fuzzy. You might remember Tina Fey holding a picket sign, or Conan O’Brien spinning his wedding ring on television after his writing staff walked away. But otherwise? That was ten years ago. We had just gotten iPhones for the first time, the last Harry Potter book was out, and honestly, everything else is kind of a blur.

But those memories are about to come flooding back as the Writers Guild of America considers another potential strike. Today, the WGA will finalize a strike-authorization vote. If its members vote to authorize, the guild has the power to call a strike. It’ll do just that if ongoing contract negotiations break down between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP). Should that happen, the strike would commence as early as May 2.

Now what does all that mean, exactly? We’re glad you asked. Here’s a basic rundown. 

Read More »

what to watch after five came back

An effective film can be used as a weapon and during World War II, America utilized every weapon in its arsenal. As Hollywood directors turned propagandists, John Ford, Frank Capra, William Wyler, George Stevens, and John Huston understood better than most the incredible power of film. But did they wield it responsibly? Netflix’s three-part documentary series Five Came Back attempts to answer that question by digging into the strange, even ugly period of history when Hollywood directly fed the war machine.

Let’s take a look at the series itself…and what you should watch after you’ve finished it, should you want to see more.

Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

pictures at a revolution

Netflix’s latest documentary is an ambitious affair that combines legendary directors, World War II, and the disembodied voice of Meryl Streep. Five Came Back is a multi-part tale of five directors who temporarily left Hollywood to create propaganda for the U.S. military in the 1940s. It’s based on the 2014 book by film journalist Mark Harris, and it managed to snag modern movie icons like Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Guillermo del Toro as talking heads. Streep serves as the narrator.

It’s easy to see why Netflix went all-out on this incredible piece of movie history. But hopefully, it’s not done with Harris just yet. Because he wrote another book about Hollywood history concerning a quintet, and it’s begging to be the next Netflix docuseries.

Read More »