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Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
He's made bad taste a true art form. In light of his recent birthday, here's our choices for John Waters' 10 Best Films.

He was born to a pair of highly conservative parents. As a child, he spent hour after hour playing the fantasy gore game “car accident” and as a teen he tended to hang around the undesirable element in his ‘50s high school. By college age he was a first class shoplifter, a bohemian troublemaker, and a fledgling filmmaker. By the time he hit his twenties, he pooled his resources and his friends. Suddenly, Dreamland Studios was born, and John Waters was a director. Today, he’s the acknowledged Prince of Puke, a man whose humor has influenced countless generations of outsider artists. From There’s Something About Mary to the many faces of Apatow, he’s the inspiration for and the King of gross out gags.


So with his birthday this week, we thought we’d revisit the Waters canon, concentrating on his full length features. Granted, we have automatically removed one from consideration (we just don’t like Cecil B. Demented) and have avoided almost anything pre-Pink Flamingos (with an exception). Also, this is just a ranking of how we see the man’s career, not some universal declaration of good and bad. As a matter of fact, Waters has had one of the most consistent oeuvres of any recognizable auteurs. Because they are always built on his singular vision, his work remains instantly discernible…and accessible. You just have to have the stomach for it, even something as innocuous as the first title on our list:


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Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014
It could have been a late April sleeper. Instead, Johnny Depp's sci-fi thriller failed to ignite the box office. Here are five reasons why.

With its less than impressive box office totals and almost universal critical derision, many are calling Transcendence the first major “big budget” flop of 2014. There are even those who are taking the fallout even further, arguing that Johnny Depp’s tenure as an international superstar is over while pointing to his last few films—Alice in Wonderland, The Rum Diary, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Dark Shadows, and The Lone Ranger—as examples of his fading A-list status. Of course, Alice was a billion dollar “disaster”, while the pathetic Pirates pulled in another nine figures.


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Monday, Apr 21, 2014
The House of Mouse isn't out to play Bill Nye. It's not going to rewrite your understanding of the instincts and issues that coming with living in the wild.

Back in the late ‘40s, as America was emerging from World War II, the Walt Disney company decided to do something daring. In deference to their fans who loved the fluffy fun animated efforts, the House of Mouse experimented, sending filmmakers out into the wild to capture nature as it was (or at the very least, how it was before it was cinematically shifted and manipulated). The films, beginning with Seal Island, were a massive success, and soon Buena Vista International’s True-Life Adventures brand became synonymous with high quality documentaries. The studio would even go on to win several Oscars for such subjects as The Living Desert, The Vanishing Prairie, and The White Wilderness and create dozens of educational shorts to use in classroom and other instructional settings (like NBC’s Sunday Night tradition, The Wonderful World of Disney).


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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
They don't like a man in uniform.

One fine day, Massimo (Ray Lovelock) tells his mom not to wait up for him. Then he goes out, puts on a ski mask, and bungles an attempted robbery of a jewelry store. When he’s thrown in prison with a local drug kingpin (Martin Balsam), we begin to suspect there’s more to the story, and these feelings are confirmed by a flashback and helpful expository dialogue. The plot’s twists include a break-out and eventual arrival in Genoa on the Riviera, where third-billed Elke Sommer finally shows up as a gangster’s moll who likes Massimo because he’s such a blond heart-throb who loves his mother.


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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
Look at her looking.

L’Immortelle begins as it means to continue: a series of fragmentary, disorienting scenes of a man gazing helplessly upon a fetishized, smiling, mysterious woman in a variety of locations around Istanbul. The opening montage of shots create an imaginary time and space through editing of glances and gestures across obviously disparate moments. The result is dreamlike and obsessive in very sharp, arid black and white. If these first moments don’t warn you away, you are helplessly under the movie’s spell. The rest of the film expands these scenes without explaining them: a man has a series of frustrating encounters, and evidently a sexual affair, with an elusive woman who might possibly be a spirit. At the very least, she’s a Symbol.


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