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Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012
He may have had the best year of any actor in 2011, but Baby Goose wasn't nominated for an Oscar. Fair? Yes, actually.

5) Not Being Nominated Gives Him a Better Chance to Win

Well, not this year obviously. However, the credit he’s built up with three fine performances this year is only bolstered by the snub given him by the Academy. Think of it this way – if he were to be nominated for Drive, would anyone remember The Ides of March or Crazy, Stupid, Love in five years? I think not.

After all, do people remember James Franco for Howl or 127 Hours? Do they think of Chicago when John C. Reilly comes to mind, or Gangs of New York, The Hours, or The Good Girl, all of which came out the same year? Even Tom Cruise will forever be linked to Magnolia by his Oscar nod and not the better, more controlled performance in Eyes Wide Shut.

None of the above men have won an Oscar (yet – Tom will someday). They haven’t even earned a second nomination (granted it’s only been a year since Franco got his). Their first nominations seem to be prize enough.

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Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012
Love is in the air, as mandated by Madison Avenue, various greeting card manufacturers, and endless couples' arguments. Here are 10 ways to step outside the norm and avoid the annual festival of forced affection.

Love is in the air, as mandated by Madison Avenue, various greeting card manufacturers, and endless couples’ arguments. Yes, it’s that time of year again, time to celebrate a faux holiday originally created to honor a Catholic Saint, but was then later removed from the official Vatican calendar around 1969. Still, with untold dozens of roses to be bought and metric tons of candy and other confections to be divvied up, Valentine’s Day will not go gentle into that good night. As irrelevant as it remains—after all, why demand a day for affection and romance (shouldn’t that be a year-round thing?)—it still seems to make many a hellbound heart skip that intangible beat. For those without a significant other, or the desire to spend their hard earned money on commercially coerced emotion, 14 February can suck hard cheese. Perhaps that’s why true feelings are so mysterious… without a corporation telling you what to believe, sentiment has become stagnant over the decades.

Don’t worry, we are here to help. Instead of sitting around lamenting the fact that a media made love life seems to be passing you buy, check out our 10 Greatest Alternative Cinematic Valentines, movies that will make your lack of chalky candy nibbles and overpriced foliage festooned with baby’s breath a bit more bearable. For many, these films will appear like sacrilege, purposefully mean without truly understanding the need for Valentines. For most of us, however, they represent the real reason for hating the season. In Annie Hall, Woody Allen had an elderly woman utter the most brilliant line of dialogue ever to describe the fate of romance: “love fades”. Indeed… and these motion picture reminders are what happens when it does. From murder and mayhem to misery and melancholy, all forced celebrations can be wrapped up in these Decalogue for the desperate, dateless, and depressed.

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Friday, Feb 10, 2012
While some want to question his authorship, there is no denying the lasting influence of William Shakespeare. These 10 titles prove that with accolades to spare.

From declarations of undeniable greatness to questions of legitimacy, the literary world continues to be fascinated by one William Shakespeare. The famed playwright remains a historical enigma, a question almost everyone can answer outright, but can’t fully understand completely. While the postmodern age has spent inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out if a failed actor in England really did create some of the most amazing theater pieces ever written, the various medias surrounding the stage have been more than happy to capitalize on their lasting success. There have been more adaptations of Shakespeare work than that of any other writer, living or dead, and while all have not been true to the famous Bard, almost all have been infused (directly or spiritually) by his signature style.

Still, the mythos continues. Just this past year, Roland Emmerich attempted to enter the awards season fray with his disaster-epic free look at the authorship argument, Anonymous. Even John Madden’s jovial, jokey Shakespeare in Love (out now on a brilliant Blu-ray) suggested a different source of inspiration. It even rode its likeable lark status all the way to seven Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. Yet for many, the story behind these plays is far less important than what is actually happening on the page itself. This has lead to dozens of direct adaptations and perhaps hundreds of influenced approaches. Indeed, we wouldn’t have West Side Story, My Own Private Idaho, or Strange Brew without the ongoing sway of Stratford-upon Avon’s most famous son.

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Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012
Suspense...intrigue...efficiency? These 10 titans of the international espionage genre remind us that, a certain 007 aside, there's plenty of pleasing cinematic spies to champion.

James Bond. Okay, we’re done. That’s right, unless we get the 007lb gorilla out of the room right up front, you wonderful readers will be arguing ad nauseum about his placement and where/when he will fall on this list. Naturally, he takes number one. No question…and therefore, no suspense. Indeed, the truth remains that, within the entire espionage subgenre, there is no greater onscreen spy than Mr. Licensed to Kill himself. Whether he takes the persona of Sean Connery (still the upper most of the topper most) or Daniel Craig, Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan (the less said about Timothy Dalton, the better), Bond is the best, there is no questioning the conceit. In fact, there is probably no other character in any medium whose had the longevity, the impact, and the lasting appeal of the ultimate ‘60s jet setting secret agent.

So where does that leave the rest of the cinematic spies? Clearly, lower down the talent totem pole and jealous of the affection someone like Bond mandates. Scholars have shuffled through the character’s complicated oeuvre, measuring out his effectiveness and abilities in decades long debates and almost every movie to come down the pipeline since has modeled at least some aspect of their narrative approach or aesthetic from those crackerjack counterculture entertainments. Take the new to DVD/Blu-ray release of The Double. In an effective if minor thriller, Richard Gere plays a retired CIA agent brought back in to help the FBI track the identity of a Russian hitman named ‘Cassius.’ Of course, in the land of backstabbing and mixed allegiances, it could be anyone…and it all follows the formula that Bond and his creative buddies set down years before.

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Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012
by Barry Koltnow - The Orange County Register (MCT)
Here are the worst biographical films of all time, accompanied by my usual negative comments.

My boss cheated on me.

While I was on vacation, he ran somebody else’s movie list in my space. I’ve never felt so betrayed.

But we both learned something from the experience. We learned that the half-empty glass gets so much more attention than the half-full glass.

Allow me to explain.

The editor — for the sake of clarity, let’s call him Jeff — ran a news-service story listing the 10 best movies of 2011, according to the syndicated writer with whom my boss was cheating. The story did well enough in the online version of this newspaper that my editor was motivated to run a follow-up column from the same writer.

The second story was a list of the 10 worst movies of 2011, and it drew five times as many readers as the original.

“Don’t you think that’s interesting?” the editor asked.

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