also no one in the world could do what richard does with this role

Being Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Daughter...
  • Lin would cry the day you were born but he would also brag a lot.
  • He’d shower you with gifts but he was also careful not to overdo it
  • Chances are, (depending on your age and whatever year you’d picture this for) you’d be friends with a lot of the Hamilton cast/ and or their kids
  • There’s no doubt about it you’d be a freestyling genius much like him and musically talented.
  • And Lin would be so proud of this
  • Lin’s heart would melt every time you called him ‘dad’
  • He is probably one of the most caring, sweetest, and involved father out there.
  • And if your mother wasn’t in the picture, Lin would be sure to work to fill in her shoes.
  • He would attend all your school events and extra curriculars too.
  • On mother’s day he would plan a brunch inviting his sister and mother over making sure you knew you weren’t alone when it came to the amount of females in your life.
  • Whenever he goes to Richard Rodgers Theatre or goes to work for whatever project he’s working on he is constantly pulling his phone out to show his fellow coworkers pictures of you
  • He can’t help it
  • But one thing is for sure, Lin would make sure you knew how strong of a woman you were. Being a strong activist for equal rights Lin knew how easy it was for girls in today’s society to feel weak and defeated by the powerful and he never wanted you to experience that. So he would make post-it notes and stick them in your lunchbox, on your mirror, and anywhere he could find with sayings such as…
  • “I am woman hear me roar!”
    “Though she be but little, she is fierce!”
    “A strong woman looks fear in the eye and gives it but a wink.”
    “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
  • And because your father is one of the most encouraging and inspiring figures in the world, not only in tweets but reality as well, he excels at giving the best, most needed pep talks when you’re down in the dumps.
  • Lin had you speaking Spanish as soon as you said your first word
  • Lin would practically document your entire life. He liked taping you and taking pictures while you were doing casual activities such as coloring, singing, dancing, playing with your dolls, running around the house, etc.
  • Tobillo basically being your best friend
  • That dog follows you wherever you go
  • Lin has thousands of videos from when you were learning to walk, practically waddling around and Tobillo was right on your heel the entire time following you.
  • The whole Hamilton cast would be obsessed with you
  • Especially Phillipa
  • That girl loved you as if you were her own
  • And if you were old enough, you would join the Schuyler Sisters in their inbetween shows closet talk.
  • Sleep overs at Jasmine and Anthony’s while your dad is out of town
  • And they would absolutely LOVE having you over
  • You made them want to have kids that much more and Anthony loved taking you to the movies and Jasmine loved taking you out shopping
  • Speaking of shopping, Renee, Jasmine, and Phillipa are always spoiling you with the newest trends and what nots.
  • The Hamilton cast would be like another family to you
  • Always running around backstage with Groffsauce, who usually was assign babysitting duty.
  • The Schuyler sisters- as well as Leslie teaching you how to harmonize
  • Daveed loved helping you with your freestyling
  • You and him always got in heated battles- in good spirits of course
  • Playing childish games during intermission and between shows with Oak, Daveed, and Anthony.
  • Trying to braid your dad’s hair during his Hamilton days
  • Let’s be real, Lin would dedicate Dear Theodosia to you
  • And during Stay Alive (reprise) and It’s Quiet Uptown he had genuine tears pinching at his eyes as he fathomed the thought of losing you
  • But Lin would always run to you and spin you around every night after shows
  • The two of you would walk hand and hand together home and Lin would sing you to sleep every night
  • He’d love making you breakfast and basking in that domestic life
  • I could see him making some of the best pancakes in the world
  • And one morning when you were little, you convinced him to let you have a sip of his coffee
  • “Daddy, what’s that black stuff in there.”
    “It’s called coffee, bebé.”
    “Can I try some?”
    “Uh, I don’t think so, Y/n. You wouldn’t like it.”
    “Please, papi.”
    “Oh alright.”
  • Like he predicted, you hated it. The liquid burned your throat and young little you cried at the bitterness for at least a minute which broke Lin’s heart.
  • Lin would be the type of parent that would love to show you off to family and friends but when it came to posting pictures of you on social media, he usually made sure your face was covered, just to keep an element of privacy in his life.
  • But he does love tweeting stories about you or cute things that you do
  • Your childhood years would be a little hectic. Lin probably wouldn’t be around as much as he wants with filming, acting, composing and all but he would make an effort of a lifetime to be as involved as possible.
  • By your late teens you had already seen much of the world but that didn’t mean you were bored by any mean. Adventure was in your soul.
  • Lin would spend a lot of time with you during his time working with the film Moana. He liked to come to you to find inspiration.
  • Family trips to Disney World and Land
  • Lin is constantly trying to help you with his homework
  • “You know I was a teacher.”
  • Coming to him when you start learning about the American Revolution
  • “Well I mean you came to right person. I did write an entire musical about this stuff. Just use the album for a reference, it’s mostly accurate.”
  • Walking into your house one day after school infuriated as you set your pop quiz on the Schuyler Sisters in front of him, a large 9/10 circled with red pen.
  • “And I quote, I’m the oldest and the wittiest… My father has no sons… dad you cost me a perfect score! Why did you lie in the lyrics, I thought you said I could trust them!”
    “I’m sorry I forgot they had other siblings!”
  • Similar to your father, you swore like a sailor
  • Which also meant you were constantly getting scolded and death glares from your father who claims “He didn’t raise you to speak like that.” Even though you both know he did.
  • But honestly I could see Lin being into girl drama. Like when he picks you up from school and sees an annoyed look on your face he’d just shake his head and say,
  • “Spill the tea, honey. I’m ready!”
  • And on your bad days after dropping you off at home after school, Lin would drive to the nearest DQ and Chick-Fil-A and movie store returning home with gifts in toll.
  • He was one of the only people in the world you trusted enough to tell everything too
  • Dad jokes, so many dad jokes.
  • “Dad I’m thirsty. Do we have any-“
    “Hi thirsty nice to meet you I’m Lin-Manuel.”
  • Being very close with your grandparents
  • Your grandpa teaching you how to cook
  • Your grandma would spoil you tbh
  • Girl talk with your Aunt Luz
  • Your dad would be really big on making sure you knew and understood the importance of equality and treating others with respect. 
  • Weekly meals at their place where your grandpa is also telling tales
  • “You know pequeño, when your father was your age I couldn’t get him to shut up!”
    “Papi-“
    “He was always doing his rapping, talking fast and never making sense but he had passion just like yourself so don’t you ever give up on yourself carino. If your father did he would not be where he is today- and neither would you.”
    “Thank you abuelo.”
  • And when you finally do make it, doing whatever or being wherever that may be, you’ll have Lin’s as well as the rest of your families support because Lin knows exactly what it feels like to have millions of people doubt you and laugh at you for doing the unexpected so his support will never run out.
  • When Lin finds out you have a passion for writing and composing, he immediately takes you with him for a daddy daughter date to the studio.
  • He pretends to be out of ideas for a song and you play along knowing it would be a lot less painful to take the easy path.
  • “Well there are a few different projects I’ve been working on lately. They aren’t too good… pretty shitty-“
    “Y/n.”
    “Sorry… but uh, you can have a look I suppose.”
  • Becoming a co writer beside your dad on his next project
  • Going on walks and hikes together with Tobillo
  • But for real though Lin would be insanely protective over you
  • Like when it comes to you Lin always needs to know where you are and constantly has eyes on you
  • When you got your first boyfriend/girlfriend Lin would FLIP
  • You’d suddenly become a player in the game ’21 questions’ or more like 101 questions when it came to your dad
  • He demanded meeting your significant other and no matter the gender, he held his strong demeanor and hardly cracked a smile- well until he saw how happy you looked in their presence.
  • But eventually he’d come to term with it. Although he would always see you as his little girl, he knew you had to spread your wings and he was not about to hold you back from doing so.
  • And when you finally land a lead role on an upcoming Broadway show, Lin is ecstatic.
  • Every day he calls you to ask how rehearsals are going partly because he’s interested and excited for you but also because he remembers his restless days and nights where he’d come home so stressed he’d forget to eat for days. He didn’t want to see you go through the hardships he did.
  • Ironically enough the new production is held, opening night, in the same old theater you grew up in, Richard Rodgers. Home sweet home. 
  • And on opening night you can guarantee your father is sitting front row with four bouquets of various flowers surrounded by all your family and friends as well as a handful of the original and new Hamilton cast.
  • And he would cry. A lot.
  • But he would also be that dad that right before the show starts, as the lights are dimming, he stands up and shouts,
  • “Go Y/n!”
  • His proud dad tweets would be never ending that night
  • After the production he was sure to be the first backstage and the first to hug you.
  • “You did it, you did it! I’m so proud of you, mi ángel. Congratulations!”
  • You’d be lying to yourself if you said your dad didn’t have a surprise party planned for after the play because he did.
  • Not to be a downer but there would be days where Lin would cry himself to sleep thinking he hasn’t done enough, or given you the life you deserve. He worked himself far too hard to make sure you had everything you could ever need and knew you were loved, but sometimes he couldn’t help but fear the worst.
  • Although at times he can be overbearing, you wouldn’t want it anyway else.

This was so fun to write oh my lord, hope you enjoyed!

-Daizy xx

Epic Movie (Re)Watch #127 - Chicago

Originally posted by the-color-of-rain

Spoilers below.

Have I seen it before: Yes

Did I like it then: Yes.

Do I remember it: Yes.

Did I see it in theaters: No.

Format: Blu-ray

1) This film holds a lot of personal significance to me. I first saw it when I was 13 in one of the hardest months of my life. I was sick with pneumonia (diagnosed that day) and my great grandmother had just died, so the whole family was over because the funeral was that week. It was late and someone wanted to put in a movie so my dad pulls out Chicago. My mother was a little bit strangely strict about what PG-13 movies I could and could not see, usually forbidding more sexual stuff than anything else. So this was the most sexual film I had seen at the time and I had felt because of that, and the fact I was watching it with all the adults of my family, that I had been promoted to the adult table in some senses. I was really captivated by the music, the story, the moral ambiguity, it was just so different from anything else I’ve seen. I would not be Just Another Cinemaniac without Chicago. In some ways its as important to my film fan identity as Back to the Future.

2) The film opens with an extreme close up on Roxie’s (Renée Zellweger’s) eye, giving us our first inkling on how this is a musical in Roxie’s mind. But more on that later.

3) Note that we never see Velma Kelly’s (Catherine Zeta Jones’) face until she’s on stage giving a performance. This creates the feeling that Velma is ALWAYS putting on a performance.

4) Catherine Zeta Jones as Velma Kelly.

Originally posted by musemm

This film is pretty much perfectly cast, I think. 4 of its actors were nominated for Oscars, with another being nominated for a Golden Globe. Zeta Jones actually won her first (and to date only) Oscar for her role in this film, and for good reason to. She IS Velma Kelly. Zeta Jones is totally lost in the role, being able present all of Velma’s different qualities. Her showmanship, her rare vulnerability, her killer instinct, and it all just WORKS. You never EVER feel like you’re watching an actress. Zeta Jones IS Velma Kelly and as the first character we get a nice long look at, it is a great performance to start the film off with.

5) Hey, it’s Dominic West!

6) Renée Zellweger as Roxie Hart.

Originally posted by segel-sudeikis

Roxie is really the lead of this film, the character who we follow along and see the world through. The writing is really interesting. It would have been easy to start Roxie off as some innocent girl who made a mistake and goes on this big journey, but Roxie - despite whatever facade she puts up - is hardly some innocent girl. She readily and passionately has an affair even though her husband is a pretty nice guy (and not a “nice guy” where the guy acts nice but is really a jerk, but is actually pretty kind), murderers her lover just for being a jerk (there are better reasons to murderer someone), all while putting up this act like she did nothing wrong and is the victim. And I honestly think she believes it.

Renée Zellweger captures all these conflicting parts of Roxie’s character with true mastery. She also is able to handle Roxie’s transformation into a more cutthroat and determined creature with the same expertise. Like with Zeta Jones, you never feel like you’re watching Zellweger just giving a performance. She is - for all intents and purposes - Roxie. Originally Charlize Theron was cast in the part but after a change in directors there was a change in casting, and Zellweger had to learn signing and dancing for the film. It paid off wonderfully, as she was nominated for an Oscar for what is possibly her best role ever.

7) John C. Reilly as Amos.

Originally posted by mikewazowskis

John C. Reilly was also nominated for an Oscar for his performance in this film, and it is clear why. Amos is the only honestly good character in the film, and even then he is not without his flaws. He is not above losing his temper or being able to say when enough is enough when it comes to Roxie (you know, the woman who cheats on him, tries to have him take the fall for murder, and manipulates him in court just to get off). But - because this is Chicago - he’s the only main(ish) character to come out the other side being totally and utterly screwed over. There are some nice layers to Amos (mainly the loss of temper as mentioned above) and Reilly is just totally sincere in the part. It’s no wonder he was nominated for an Oscar.

8) This film sets itself apart from other movie musicals through the idea that the musical is all in Roxie’s head.

Originally posted by inlovewithaudreyhepburn

This creates a plausible explanation for why character’s burst into song and dance, allows the film to utilize some unique editing and art direction, and finally gives us a nice peek into Roxie’s head. This element allows us to see just how passionate Roxie is not only for the desire to perform but also the desire for fame. It also lets us know how she sees OTHER characters in the film (namely Billy Flynn, but more on that later). I think it is this key element that set the film up for such critical and artistic success, leading to its best picture win at the Oscars.

9) Danny Elfman provides a few nice instrumental pieces of score for the film which feel totally period Chicago. When you are adapting a popular musical such as Chicago adding extra music could be a challenge, but Elfman’s occasional score blends perfectly with the rest of the film.

10) Queen Latifah as Mama.

Originally posted by isabellenightwoods

Latifah rounds out the quartet of Academy Award nominated performances with her portrayal as Matron Mama Morton. I think it’s Latifah’s best performance. She is able to portray Mama as cooperative and a bit soft spoken, but still someone who deals with no bullshit from her inmates. She is as manipulative as any other character in this film, if not as in big a way. You often hear her tell Roxie and Velma EXACTLY what they want to hear knowing that it will lead to a big pay day for her. It is a crafty role which Latifah plays well, and her introductory song “When You’re Good to Mama” shows off not only this characterization but Roxie’s perception of her quite well. It also allows for Latifah to show off her impressive singing chops.

11) The Cell Block Tango.

Originally posted by queen-cii

Where do I even begin with this number? It is by far the most iconic and best part of the entire film. The filmmakers are able to use the idea of “the musical in Roxie’s mind” to create a visually unique and compelling number which is edited together seamlessly with the “real world” of the Cook County jail Roxie finds herself in. Each of the “murderess mistresses” is given enough time to create a unique character and create a sense of the world Roxie (and the audience) finds herself in at this time. I particularly find the use of ribbons to illustrate blood/murder wildly effective, noting that Hunyak’s ribbon (the girl who constantly claims she is not guilty) is white whereas the others are red. This suggest that she is - in fact - innocent.

It is also worth noting that while the first story starts off very much “I’m guilty, here’s what happened”, that by the time we get to the inmate who claims her husband “ran into her knife” ten times the stories have become more and more claiming of legal innocence. This is a trend which continues through Velma’s story, where she claims she blacked out after seeing her husband & sister having sex and came to with blood on her hands. We as the audience have actually seen NOTHING which contradicts this story, further creating a nice sense of showmanship within the film.

Originally posted by mymovieblogx

12) Okay, I am all for good female friendships on film and television, but I would be lying if I said the catty relationship between Velma & Roxie was not entertaining. I think this is a byproduct from good writing (with what we know about these characters, how ELSE could their relationship go?) and the wildly captivating chemistry between Zeta Jones and Zellweger. Their relationship is one of the key sources of conflict throughout the film and with those two actresses it just WORKS.

13) Richard Gere as Billy Flynn.

The number in Roxie’s head which introduces us to Flynn - “All I Care About” - is a pitch perfect example of expectations vs. reality. After what she’s heard about Billy (which isn’t much mind you), Roxie expects him to be this honest to goodness lawyer who only wants to save women from dying in by the noose in Chicago. What we get however is the craftiest, most manipulative skeeze ball in the film. So why is he so damn likable? Who is he comparable to the roguish Han Solo? Why do we root for him? I think that is all in Gere’s performance. It would be easily to play him as a disgusting slime ball but there is a charisma that Gere brings which I think elevates the character and the film. Originally offered to Hugh Jackman & John Travolta at different parts, Gere’s chemistry with the rest of the cast is great and although the film didn’t land him an Oscar nomination he did receive a Golden Globe for his work.

14) I think it’s worth noting that Roxie does not take too long to adapt to prison. Again evidence that she’s not as innocent as she wants people to think.

15) “We Both Reached For The Gun”

Originally posted by darker-than-light

I can never tell if this or “Razzle Dazzle” is my favorite number in the film, but I think for a visual standpoint it HAS to be this. This is once again where the conceit of “the musical in Roxie’s head” benefits the film GREATLY. The imagery of Roxie being a dummy operated by Billy to sell her story not reflects on their relationship in an incredibly clear way (as well as how Billy is literally using people) but also is just visually fascinating. Zellweger is a lot of fun during the number, and if you ever want to know why this film won the Oscar for best editing the year it was nominated just watch this scene.

16) The song “Roxie” when Roxie is at the top of her game is a great character study. It goes even deeper into Roxie’s desire for fame and admiration, a key quality in her character that drives pretty much all her actions throughout the film. It features gorgeous cinematography with its use of mirrors and presents us with Roxie’s ideal self. This ideal self is not a good person (not necessarily), but someone who is adored by her audience. If that doesn’t speak to who Roxie is as a character I don’t know what does.

Originally posted by barbara-stanwyck

17) A film is told in cuts, as in cutting from one moment to the next in as clean and clear a way as possible.

Velma [after Mama suggests she kisses Roxie’s ass to maintain some position]: “Over my dead body.”

[We cut to the mess hall, where Velma is seen smiling at Roxie]

Velma: “Mind if I join you?”

18) “I Can’t Do It Alone”

Originally posted by avengerassemble

Up until this point we have not seen Velma truly vulnerable. We have peeked more into who Roxie is as a character than who Velma is. That all changes with this number, which shows us that Velma is just as desperate for the spotlight as Roxie is. She NEEDS to stay relevant, she NEEDS the fame and the admiration, and only when it was too late did she realize that the murder of her sister took away one of the key things that made her so desirable to the world in the first place. This song is a fun number that adds nice depth to Zeta Jones’ character and shows off just how talented she can be with Velma’s vulnerability.

19) My heart broke a little when I saw Velma’s face after Roxie’s rejection of her.

And in that moment and that moment alone, I think I shipped the two of them together.

20) Lucy Liu’s glorified cameo as Kitty, the newest jazz killer in Chicago and the one who threatens to take away Roxie’s fame, is a perfect example of how easily Roxie can fall. But here’s the thing, Roxie is smarter than she appears. And more manipulative. It is her greatest strength that people underestimate her, so when she “faints” and mentions “the baby” everyone - from Velma to Billy - are all surprised by her.

21) I was a naive 13 year old. I didn’t understand that the doctor who said he’d testify that Roxie was pregnant had very clearly slept with her (hence Billy’s remark about his fly being open).

Originally posted by mulder-scully-gifs

22) “Mister Cellophane”

Originally posted by 80plays

Somehow this song not only shows us how ROXIE perceives her estranged husband as being someone who’s not worth caring about, but also makes Amos into a sympathetic character. He is not particularly whiny about the fact that he’s oft forgotten, he’s just a little sad about it. Reilly’s performance in the song is filled with soft sorrow and vulnerability we don’t always get to see from the actor, an honesty which carries the entire song on its back. It is a truly worthy number to be included with the rest of the film, with its Chaplin like art style and Reilly’s vocals, and I’m glad it made the cut.

23) In a lot of ways Chicago is a noir comedy musical. I say this for two reasons: Amos being kinda screwed over at the end, and the fact that Hunyak - the only innocent girl in the jail - is the only who is hanged. This also reminds Roxie of the fact that she IS on trial for murder and of the fatal consequences she could face.

24) “Razzle Dazzle”

Originally posted by barbara-stanwyck

If “We Both Reached for the Gun” is my favorite number in the film from a stylistic standpoint, then “Razzle Dazzle” is probably my favorite from a thematic one. Gere expresses Flynn’s belief that the courts are just a circus, simply entertainment to be manipulated, in a way which is just that: entertaining. I am always totally taken in by the song through its themes of craftiness, playful melody, and fun visuals. It is just a wonderful number which I love watching again and again.

25) If “Razzle Dazzle” doesn’t tell you how Billy sees the court system than this line will:

Originally posted by stilinska-archive

Hell, the non-musical court room scenes are in a lot of ways more dramatic than the musical ones.

26) This film had a song which was shot but not included in the final cut, one sung between Mama and Velma called “Class”. Still found on the movie’s soundtrack, “Class” had the pair discuss how the world seems to have gone to shit and how no one has any class. It was cut both for pacing issues and - largely - because it did not fit the theme of “the musical in Roxie’s head”. Roxie was at the court house and these two started singing after hearing about what was going on over the radio. It is a wonderful song but I think the film works better without it featured.

27) It took absolutely no time at all for Roxie not to matter. The press didn’t even want her picture after the verdict was read. Another killer, another star.

28) The final number of the film is a dual thing. The first of which is Roxie singing the song “Nowadays” on her own at an audition. The song is sad, somber, and lacks umph. This causes the directors to pass on Roxie. But when Velma and Kelly work together? When they’re able to work with their heat and chemistry and put on a duet of “Nowadays”? The umph is back and it is a wonderful number to end the film on!

Originally posted by damnafricawhathappened


I’m obviously biased through my own personal experience with the film, but I think Chicago is quite possibly the best movie musical of the 21st century (yes, even better than Les Miserables). The acting is incredible across the board, with Catherine Zeta Jones and Renée Zellweger being the obvious standouts. The concept of “the musical in Roxie’s head” allows for a musical which is unique and supports a wonderful art style. The songs are fun, the pacing and editing are great, and it’s a technical spectacle in its subtletly. Just a wonderfully entertaining film I think everyone should watch.

New interview with The Telegraph (I posted the entire article for those without access)

‘Edgar Wright could have fired me and got Michael Caine instead’: Kevin Spacey on loss, life and Baby Driver

By Robbie Collin, Film Critic

1 July 2017 • 7:00am

Kevin Spacey is a man who knows when to get on his bike. Take the morning of our interview, a balmy Wednesday in June on which central London is even more than usually snarled with traffic. In transit to our meeting place – a chic West End hotel – he abandons his taxi and leaps on a rental bicycle, or so I’m told by a neatly dressed man with a moustache and clipboard whose job entails keeping abreast of Spacey’s movements, for today at least.

Minutes later, Spacey glides in sweat-free and bang on time, despite having made an iced latte pit stop en route. Smiling hungrily, and dressed in a sharp navy blazer, striped tie and chinos, he looks like a crocodile disguised as a Rotarian. But as he slouches into an armchair and amiably lobs the screwed-up wrapper of his drinking straw towards a wastepaper basket in the corner – a near miss – I start to wonder if my wary first impression was entirely fair.

It was certainly swayed by the fact that Spacey’s career is currently in the sixth fruitful year of its death-dealing control freak phase, a character type at which the 57-year-old actor has proved remarkably adept. First came his three-month stint as Richard III at the Old Vic – a production of the Shakespeare play, directed by Sam Mendes, that was called the crowning glory of his 11-year creative directorship at the London theatre.

Next came six seasons of Netflix’s glossily rancorous political serial House of Cards, in which Spacey plays President Frank Underwood – a character whose original incarnation, in a series of novels by the British author and Conservative peer Michael Dobbs, was partly inspired by Richard III and Macbeth. And this week, we have the first film Spacey shot since leaving the Old Vic in 2015: Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, a car-chase thriller in which he plays Doc, the dark mind and barbed tongue behind a madcap Atlanta bank-robbing crew. It’s a role, like those other two, that turns on the classic Spacey bark/bite conundrum: you think his character can’t possibly be as scary as he sounds, and then he actually gets to work.

There were hints of that in his performance in The Usual Suspects, too: the first in a quartet of towering film roles that made his reputation and won him two Academy Awards in five years flat. (The others were Se7en, L.A. Confidential and American Beauty.)

This kind of actor-audience tension reminds Spacey of Shakespeare – a lot does – and specifically, the way theatre-goers around the world reacted when, as a raging Richard III, he directly addressed members of the audience while pouring out his nefarious schemes. (The theatrical technique was adopted by House of Cards, to similarly chilling ends.)

“In 12 different theatres in 12 different cities around the world, I was looking into the audience’s eyes and seeing the same extraordinary reaction everywhere: ‘This is so awesome, I’m in on it, I’m a co-conspirator!’” he recalls. “And they kept totally supporting him, right up until the moment they find out he murdered the kids. Then when I looked at them it was like, ‘Oh, f—,’” he beams.

Spacey sets about his work with a steely resolve and says his sense of purpose has redoubled following the deaths of a number of close friends, not least the actor Tim Pigott-Smith, in April of this year, and the theatre director Howard Davies last October, both of whom worked with Spacey on the 1999 Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh.

He says he’s spent the last year-and-a-half “working with a whole series of experts, doctors and others, because I have watched, over the last six years, colleagues and friends of mine drop dead at 52, or 56, or 65. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get one of the five things that men over 50 are getting, but maybe you can hold it off until your 80s or your 90s. So I’m working on extending my life and not shortening it.”

For one thing, he still has so much to do. He’s written letters asking directors he admires – Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Wong Kar-wai – to bear him in mind for future roles. (“I keep opening the paper and reading that Woody Allen’s doing a film with Alec Baldwin,” he mock-splutters.) He wants to find a new creative director-like role that will “advance [his] love and appreciation of theatre” – another Old Vic gig, essentially – albeit “with the caveat that I don’t want to run a building again.”

Then this tantalising prospect: “I have a gigantic project for television,” he says. “Once House of Cards is finished. This is a very specific project that will be the next big thing I do.” He declines to elaborate, so I ask if it will reunite him with David Fincher, the director who, along with the playwright Beau Willimon, helped bring House of Cards to Netflix. “It is not a Fincher production,” he replies. “It’s mine.”

There is also his ongoing mission to open up theatre to a younger, broader crowd. At the Old Vic he relentlessly raised funds to keep the theatre running without public subsidy, while simultaneously fighting to bring its productions to new audiences – specifically, youngsters who wouldn’t have otherwise wandered through its doors.

In fact, he’s just returned to England from New York, and a restaging of his penultimate Old Vic production – David W. Rintels’ intimate one-man show Clarence Darrow, about the American civil rights lawyer – in a 23,000-seater tennis stadium in Queens, designed to bring in a crowd for whom Broadway is alien turf. Critics didn’t exactly take to the idea, with the New York Times branding the exercise a “folly”. But for Spacey, the bragging rights are in the numbers: 200 student tickets sold every night, and a further 250 given away free to 18 to 25-year-olds. “And yes, my producers don’t like me, but in the end we still make a profit,” he says, lacing the word “like” with pure venom. “We just don’t make as big a profit.”

This nose-thumbing single-mindedness considered, it’s perhaps surprising that Spacey enjoyed working on Baby Driver as much as he did. The film is so tightly choreographed – most scenes unfold in snappy sync with a musical accompaniment – that Spacey had to act out entire scenes with an earpiece keeping time, to ensure his every line and gesture fell on the beat.

“Let me put it this way,” he says. “Every time you work with a director, you have something to lose and something to gain. Some directors, when you’re doing a play, like to get up on their feet on day one and block the first act, and you’re like, ‘I don’t f—ing know who I’m playing yet, let alone why they would walk from here to there.’ And others sit down at a table and you spend a week examining Shakespeare before anyone gets on their feet.”

What did he have to lose on Baby Driver? “I could have been fired and Edgar could have got in Michael Caine instead,” he deadpans. Spacey is an accurate and merciless mimic – see YouTube for details – and says he would sometimes drop into the British actor’s accent on set, “just to make Edgar smile.”

He does this throughout our conversation too: reminiscences of Ian McKellen’s Widow Twankey at the Old Vic’s Christmas pantomime, for example, come with a note-perfect impersonation attached. In fact, interviewing Spacey often feels as if you’re in the front row for a one-man show of his devising. He doesn’t converse so much as monologue, and adjusts his tone and posture with a slinky precision while moving from one point to the next. And when he talks about losing Pigott-Smith and Davies, his words are so tender, and his delivery so wrong-footingly serene, I find myself welling up.

It’s not that you feel that Spacey is being insincere so much as suspect that for him, this might be what sincerity is. Perhaps it’s an up-close-and-personal version of Diderot’s paradox of the actor: you can either convincingly express an emotion or feel it for real, but never both at once.

While hosting the Tony Awards a few weeks ago, Spacey joked about the long-running rumours around his sexuality – but again, at a cautious remove. During the opening skit he dragged up as Norma Desmond, from Sunset Boulevard, and trilled a line from the musical – “I’m coming out!” – before hurriedly backtracking, to laughter from the crowd.

Spacey doesn’t talk publicly about his personal life, perhaps after being burned by a 1997 magazine interview that heavily insinuated he was gay. Given his long-standing decision not to discuss any of this, did he feel odd joking about it on the stage of an awards show?

“I really don’t think that anything isn’t a subject for comedy,” he shrugs. “In many ways, political correctness has made comedy really difficult. We were just trying to have fun, and poking fun at oneself as much as anyone else. I said pretty early on that I was not interested in turning the evening into a political opportunity, and I wanted to do things that would be surprising and different.” He mentions another gag, about the Hillary Clinton email scandal, which many might have thought his long-standing friendship with her husband, might have precluded: again, not so.

If we can’t make fun of ourselves and others, and even people we might agree with versus people we don’t agree with, then I don’t think that’s good for comedy.”

One of his inspirations in life, he says, has been Jack Lemmon. The two met when Spacey was a timid 13-year-old – the youngest of three siblings – at an acting workshop in Los Angeles. Lemmon was “an idol” – someone he’d marveled at on countless cinema trips with his mother Kathleen Ann, who instilled her own love of classic films and theatre in her youngest son.

Spacey recalls the older man laying a hand on his shoulder after the class and telling him: “You’re a born actor, and you should go to New York and study this, because you were meant to do this with your life.” The advice took. At 19, Spacey was accepted by the Juilliard School, and in his mid-20s, he was cast opposite Lemmon in a Broadway production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, as the elder actor’s son. During rehearsals, he told him the story of their first meeting when he was 13. Lemmon remembered every detail.

Spacey describes Lemmon, who died in 2001, as a “father figure” (his actual father Thomas, a technical writer and frustrated novelist, passed away in 1994). He lost his mother to a brain tumour in 2003.

The shy teen who got that vital dose of Lemmon aid more than four decades ago may be long gone, but Spacey remembers him well – along with the precise point, two years later, when he fully understood what acting was.

“Something shifted,” he explains, during a school production of All My Sons, the Arthur Miller play. Before then he’d primarily enjoyed acting because it put him at the centre of attention, but as he stood on stage, the 15-year-old realised the faces in front of him – parents, classmates, strangers – weren’t actually looking at him, Kevin Spacey, at all.

“I realised they were responding to the character I was playing,” he says. “That it wasn’t about me.”

Taylor Swift's New Album 'Reputation': Everything We Know, Everything We Want

The Old Taylor can’t come to the phone? Long live the New Taylor. Reputation is one of this fall’s most tightly guarded secrets; Taylor Swift’s sixth album is her first in three years, her longest vacation ever. So far, each Swift LP has been a major musical departure. But this time, she isn’t letting any secrets slip, declining interviews and, somehow, avoiding paparazzi detection wherever she may be. All we have to go on is a quote from a source close to the project who tells Rolling Stone, “Reputation is lyrically sharper and more emotionally complex than 1989. This music has and will continue to speak for itself.”

So what do we know about Reputation? We know it has 15 songs; “…Ready For It?” will be the first track and “Look What You Made Me Do” will be the sixth. We know it drops on November 10th, which happens to be Richard Burton’s birthday. (What if that makes Reputation the Burton to Taylor’s Taylor? What if she is about to marry herself and embrace her muse as her soulmate?) It’s one day before the nine-year anniversary of Fearless, which came out in 2008 on November 11th, whereas she usually prefers to pounce in late October, as she did with Speak Now, Red and 1989. So here’s a rundown of all the clues to the burning mysteries around Reputation – what we know for sure, what we wonder, what we want, what we hope.

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goldfilm  asked:

Hi! I remember you saying something a while ago about The Secret History, where Camilla was like Persephone, and Henry was like Hades, and whether or not Julian was Dionysus. And I was wondering who the others in the Greek Squad would be, in similar comparisons. Sorry if this doesn't make sense, thanks!

no, not at all dear! it actually makes so much sense, since i think donna purposely built up all the tsh characters as symbolic representations of the greek gods, but really much mixed up with so many other classical figures as well? if you’ve studied those subjects, it’s almost impossible not to notice all the hits the author left all around the novel, you know. and then, obviously there are even your own interpretations, as a classicist and/or as a reader, so it’s almost impossible to discern where donna’s intention ends and our personal opinions might begin? so, consider what i’m about to say as my personal interpretation of the matter, even if it’s clearly supported by some kind of obvious intention of the writer, ok? :)

said that, certain comparisons are explicitly written down in the novel, for example the one you already mentioned, henry being hades and camilla being persephone. that is said as a metaphor in the book with those clear words, no hits or allusions. it’s interesting tho, the fact that on the other hand at the very beginning of the novel bunny compares camilla to diana - in other words, artemis. i find this funny and super interesting not just because obviously to any person not completely unfamiliar with greek mythology camilla and charles would immediately be the exact representation of artemis and apollo, but what really intrigued me about this is, i’m quite a “deeper scholar” of ancient greek deities and their philosophies, i’ve read pretty much everything you can read about those subject by now, i did out of passion, and as anyone who has actually studied those matters digging a little more, i’ve come to realise in many fragments and text and poems, artemis and persephone actually were described as the same deity - at some point of the orphic hymns moreover, persephone is first called “artemis” and then a few lines afterwards, demeter even says something like “oh, my poor daughter! you were destined to bear the glorious offspring of apollo and now you are married to that hideous man!”.. does it ring a bell? camilla is first in some kind of relationship with charles and then she falls for henry? who is compared to hades?
anyways, i’ve already written about this and i absolutely don’t wanna bore you with the all hows and whys, but this superimposition of deities on the same figure is a pretty common phenomenon in ancient mythologies and it’s called “syncretism”. the same god could have many names depending on the function he was summoned for. artemis, persephone, selene, hecate - they were in truth just one goddess whom aspects had several names. so it’s super funny and as much as intriguing to me, that in tsh camilla is actually first called “artemis” and then “persephone”, given the fact that she first is with charles and then with henry, respectively apollo and hades. i don’t know if donna tartt was aware of all this and did it on purpose, or if this is merely a coincidence, but it’s totally something i’m really fascinated by and that makes a huge, cosmical sense in my “classicist eyes”? lmao
and i have to say they are oh so bloody perfect for the role? all three of them? camilla being the fragile forest creature who could actually eat you alive anytime, without even blinking; charles being so much apollo he could even be the god himself as far as we might know: charming, handsome, calming, nice, but at the same time violent, anxious, deeply possessive and jealous, his dark side as deep as his ability to enchant others; and henry, well, am i even to explain what makes him a perfect hades? shady, riflessive, lost in his own world, cold intelligence and a total self-made moral, so close to the one a king could have made up to excuse himself anything? superiority/god complex, great leader, but at the same time hunted by his own demons and his own solitude, so much he wanted to find some way to escape his personal “dark kingdom”, his own mind? and he then falls precisely for the said apparently delicate creature that in truth is so much like him it is almost scary when we do find out? do tell me if all those are coincidences, i really don’t think so.

regarding all the others, it is much more difficult to say, tbh? because we are not told something as explicit, you know?
if you already read my other ask, then you know that i’m really sceptical about considering julian being the novel’s personification of dionysus. i kinda see francis much more fitting for that role if i have to name someone, but honestly i don’t actually think dionysus to be among the characters of the novel - he is indeed in the novel, but being himself. in other words, being at the same time everyone and no one at all. that’s the nature of dionysus, his very purpose and i don’t think i could accept any other interpretation, tbh.
also bunny and richard, i don’t think they are the representation of any deity whatsoever in this book. they are respectively the representation of what we are going to call the “non-believer” and the “believer”, so dear to the ancient tradition of the cult of dionysus. i don’t know if you are already aware of this or not, but it’s really a fundamental theme of dionysus’ painful journey to regain his “godhood”, meeting this two symbolical figures wherever he goes. dionysus is the god who died and was reborn, the one god who become human and had to prove his own divinity once again before being allowed to come back to olympus to claim what was his by birthright. so, every single time, in every single myth, the theme is always the same: someone does not think him a god, they disrespect him and his power, trying to kill or imprison him and they always end up slaughtered in the most amazing ways. that’s bunny. bunny who never takes anything seriously, bunny who wouldn’t understand and so that is not invited to the bacchanal, bunny who realises everything and disrespects the holiness of the act, taking the accidental murder as an atrocious act and nothing more than that, bunny that does not see it as the sacred consequence of an even more sacred experience, bunny who blackmails the actual “maenads” of dionysus (that’s what the clique became that night, kind of, in a representative way) and bunny who has to be killed, not just because of the actual modern danger of what he knew, but even because of the moral ancient one - he doesn’t get the divine importance of what happened that night; dionysus himself would have wanted him dead. this is the non-believer’s doom.
the second recurring figure in all the dionysus’ mythology is a poor, usually misunderstood and underestimated human who, while everyone is making fun of this young lad who calls himself a god and wants to punish him for that, they actually believe in dionysus’ godhood and help him achieving his purposes. this is what i called the “believer” and that’s what richard is in tsh. richard doesn’t really fit in the clique and he kinda always sees things from the outside, even in the very end. he’s a man in a land of gods, no matter how badly he wants to become one, he’s well aware he is not, he himself tells us this at the very beginning of the novel. but unlike bunny, his merit is that he just gets it. he gets the beauty of what happened, he gets the higher purpose, he gets the importance of it. richard respects and is deeply fascinated by the all story, so he’s rewarded for it in the end, just as the “believer” is always eventually rewarded in dionysus’ tales. he cannot aspire to become “that high”, “that important”, “that godly”, but he is the best a human being can aspire to be - mixed up with gods’ business, helper of the gods, touched by the gods, accepted by the gods. and that’s no light thing in the end, if we think better about it.. no light thing at all.

and here we arrive at francis, don’t we? francis is the most difficult to frame, he’d always been to me. he can seem many things, but he’s truly none of them at the end of the day. after accurate consideration, the god to whom i feel more comfortable comparing him is hermes, without any doubt. now, hermes is always seen as the playful god of thieves and mischief, apollo’s best friend, never serious, grand in wit, but not that important, am i right? well, in truth hermes is one of the most important gods of all the greek pantheon and i think he fits francis’ character perfectly as hell. first of all, hermes is playful yet always unreachable on the outside, but really complicated and shady on the inside. he’s not just the god who protects commerce and trades, he’s also one of the few phsycopompos deities of all ancient greek mythology, in other words he has the power to freely come and go as he pleases between the different realms of existence, both the living and the dead one - he’s both light and shadow. also, hermes is one of the freest sexual-oriented gods i know (he fathered hermaphroditus), but he kinda always keeps everything for himself? he doesn’t go around showing off as all the other gods. he loves deeply, but there’s always something holding him back, some shadow following him everywhere he goes. he’s also the messenger of the gods, he has the power to create a bound, a real contact between divinity and humanity. that’s so francis, tbh. francis who seem so unreachable, but at the same time so easy going and comfortable with anyone, francis who is probably the only one who actually really bounded with richard (the humanity i was talking about), francis who is never free to completely be himself out of the fear of letting down his “theoretical role” in the society, but at the same time never shows his sorrows on the outside with anyone? he lives constantly divided between two worlds, never having the courage to be fully “a god”, but scared to death to be left alone in the land of the humankind. that’s precisely hermes in my eyes, even if i don’t actually think this was really donna’s intention? who knows. i’ve certainly always seen him in this particular light.

really hope this will make any sense to you? lol if not, i’m so deeply sorry. i tend to be a little too passionate about those subjects, you know!

Surprise!

Characters: Jared x Reader, fans, Jensen

Word Count: 1579

Warnings: implied sex and kinda fluff

Summary: All people ask you about is your past relationships and your relationship status during your panel. They are pleasantly surprised with the end result of their questions.

Authors Note: Honestly, this whole idea came from listening to Intertwined by Dodie. I wanted to have this song as like how they fell in love type thing. This is my first RPF. Also, Jared is single for this. No disrespect to Gen. Hopefully I satisfied your imagination with this! Feedback is always appreciated and enjoy xx

Originally posted by marvelouslyinsane

You slowly woke up in your hotel room with Jared’s arms wrapped around your waist. You lazily look at the time before jumping out of bed, realizing that you were running late for your panel.

Your panel starts in twenty minutes. It takes ten minutes to get there, leaving you with ten minutes to get dressed, and you still have to shower.

You texted Rob that you were going to be running late before taking a quick shower and getting dressed. You were about to rush out the door, then you realized that you hadn’t woken Jared up. You shake him awake and his eyes slowly flutter open.

“Morning sunshine,” you joke as you give him a quick kiss. “I’m running late for my panel, but I’ll see you down there after you get dressed.”

He hums in response, leaning on the headboard, looking at you. “Go on, don’t want to keep the fans waiting.” He smiles at you. “You’ll be great.”

You rush out the hotel room and made it to the panel, even though you were ten minutes late.

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My Favorite Performances of 2016

These are the 15 movie roles this year I most felt deserved highlighting. Man, there were some great roles this year, introduction, introduction, introduction, how many words does this have to be? You don’t care and I certainly don’t. On to the list!(Note: except for the top two, this list is in no particular order).

Glen Powell (Everybody Wants Some!!)
The entire cast of Richard Linklater’s spiritual follow-up to “Dazed and Confused” is one riotous bundle of joy (and a cure for the usually cliche portrayal of college kids), but Glen Powell’s Finnegan is by far the standout. The scene that makes his character comes at a party for the “artsy fartsy” crowd when, after encouraging a freewheeling spirit of sex, booze, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll throughout the film, he actually gets for real hurt when his proteges crash his chances with a girl he happens to like. Finnegan is on the cusp of adulthood and leadership heading into one of the most tumultuous decades of American history, but he’s not quite there yet…and it’s the leftover, subtle vulnerabilities of the kid during his last days of youth that make him so unbelievably endearing. If there’s any justice in the world, EWS!! will do for him what Dazed and Confused did for…well, most of the cast.

Tilda Swinton (A Bigger Splash)
The (in my opinion, overblown) controversy over Swinton’s Doctor Strange role sadly overshadowed her performance in this Fellini-esque story of beautiful people behaving in decidedly un-beautiful ways. Playing a major, David Bowie-esque popstar who has gone near-mute from the stress of living in public, Swinton has few lines but somehow manages to steal the show from a simmering Matthias Schoenaerts and a manic Ralph Fiennes. Being mostly robbed of the ability to speak, Swinton has to convey a massive range of emotions largely with body language—a task she accomplishes with all the skill you’d expect from one of the world’s greatest actresses.

Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Frail and tough, honest and veiled, open and censoring—Portman’s portrayal of the most famous First Lady in American history is riddled with contradictions that, in her hands, become a coherent character. She can sink to the depths of unbearable anguish at a moment’s notice, and five minutes later it is as if nothing very bad had happened. Yet, there’s always something boiling under the surface…perhaps an understanding that history will forever place “JFK’s wife” next to her name, whatever else she may do with her life. At times, Portman seems to barely hold it all in, yet when we leave the theater she is still a mystery. Maybe that’s how it should be.

Joel Edgerton (Loving)
Rarely does more go unsaid or understood than passes behind the face of Joel Egderton as Richard Loving, one half of the married couple whose simple wish to live in their home state of Virginia dealt a death blow to laws banning interracial marriage in the United States. Edgerton says little, and when he does it is in as few words as possible…every one of which speaks his entire mind. Key to the performance, though, are scenes of him simply sharing intimate moments with wife Mildred. At a time when the stereotype of the traditonal American husband and father of yesteryear is often held up for all the wrong reasons, Edgerton’s performance is crucial.

Emma Stone (La La Land)
Until near the end, the music is the driving force of La La Land. Then someone asks the character of Mia to “tell a story”, and Emma Stone delivers one of the best scenes of her career. The strength of the “Audition” number redefines what has come before for the character, and solidifies her as both someone we can really root for, and the personification of dreamers, however hopeless they might be. The final look she gives Ryan Reynolds in the film speaks more than a page of dialogue ever could.

Viola Davis (Fences)
Before the era of feminism, there was an unspoken agreement between married couples in the U.S.: a wife was to put up with her husband’s shit, even when he was full to bursting with it. It was hard to pick one of the two main performances in “Fences” to single out, but ultimately Davis’s simmering cauldron is the heart of the story, enabling her to both survive and love life with her deeply, deeply flawed husband. Unlike Denzel Washington, who gets to vomit forth an endless stream of anger throughout the film, Davis is tasked with saving her one great outburst for when it is most needed and has the most impact, creating a scene the trailers should not have featured; it should have been allowed to burst on audiences like water from a broken dam, rolling over everything in its path. Five minutes later, she’s calm again, but she’s also a different woman…or maybe just another woman who was hiding behind the first all along.

Sunny Pawar (Lion)
The trailers all emphasize the adult Saroo’s search for his home, but the bulk of the movie is taken up with a young Saroo getting lost in the first place, and Dev Patel is overshadowed by 8-year-old Sunny Pawar…not an easy feat. Like Quvenzhane Wallis and Jacob Tremblay, Pawar takes a role that could easily have been phoned in (since we have natural sympathy for kids) and makes little Saroo into an enormously relatable character, a lost boy whose stomping ground is no Neverland. It isn’t any wonder the filmmakers keep coming back to him in flashbacks after his character is grown. He’s the heart of the film.

Hailee Steinfeld (Edge of Seventeen)
I swear, my generation moons over the era of John Hughes High School comedies so much they seem to forget that being awkward, out-of-place and unable to wait for the day after graduation day isn’t unique to them. Every year we get a handful of largely unheralded comedies about that very topic, and Hailee Steinfeld’s performance as a morbid, confused and, yes, aggressive (bad female! bad!) teen who openly discusses her sex life, alcohol habits and dark, dark, dark humor elevates “Edge of Seventeen” to the top of the pack. With acerbic wit, pinpoint aim, and unflinching pessimism, Nadine Franklin manages to skewer not just every aspect of High School life but many of life in general. The only target she routinely misses? Herself.

Kate Beckinsale (Love & Friendship)
It is exceedingly rare that a woman in the movies can be aggressive and acidic at the same time. Kate Beckinsale’s Lady Susan is such a character. It is impossible for all but the most ardent feminists to actually like her, and you’d never want to be drawn into her poisonous circle of rumor, manipulation, innuendo and life-destroying gossip, but you have to admire her for taking charge of her own life at a time when women were tasked with hosting guests, looking pretty and shutting up. These days, she’d almost certainly be described as a sociopath, wrecking lives for her whim and amusement, yet you can’t look away. She’s the year’s best villain…or is she?

Ben Foster (Hell or High Water)
Chris Pine’s well-meaning father is our anchor to this story of two desperate brothers in hard times, but Ben Foster is the anarchic, destructive force that keeps our eyes glued to the screen. Whereas Pine’s dad doesn’t think of himself as criminal and Jeff Bridges’s sheriff has spent far too much time watching old westerns, Foster knows exactly what he is: a violent criminal whose psycopathy he might be able to turn to his brother’s aid in one last blaze of glory. There’s never really a question of him surviving the story; he’s not a man, he’s a storm, and he’s here to rage harder than he ever has before blowing himself out.

Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Talk about embodying multiple people in one role. Harris plays mother to a young, gay black man at three different stages of his life, but she’s not the kind of perfect mom the movies prefer. She’s a drug addict at a time when the War on Drugs refused to treat such people with any sort of humanity, and she’s got a temper to match the times; when she screams hurtful words at her own son, the decision to remove the audio from the scene makes her come off as near-demonic. Simplicity, though, isn’t really what Moonlight deals in, and there are layers and regrets to her revealed as the film goes on. Her final scene asks a rather important question: should any time be too late to be forgiven?

Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch)
For the most part, horror will forever be considered beneath the notice of those who hand out accolades, which means even if you turn in one of the most startling performances of the year, it doesn’t really count if it’s in this genre. That’s a shame, because unless you count a tiny, uncredited role from 2014, Taylor-Joy makes the most impressive film debut of any actress this year. Called upon to do things involving animal blood and demonic possession that a more image-concerned person might spurn, she handles the role of a teenage girl whose family is being assailed by the forces of hell by taking it all absolutely seriously, which is essential; any hint that she thinks anything she’s doing is silly, and the film falls apart. There’s reason to question whether anything supernatural is really happening in the New England wilderness of the late 1600’s, but no reason to doubt the strength of Taylor-Joy’s performance.

Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Not everything has to be so serious, something Deadpool would probably remind you of right before delivering a kick straight to your kibbles and bits. As the star, producer and driving force behind the hilariously raunchy R-rated superhero flick, Reynolds is the most eminently watchable and entertaining a comic hero has been outside the suit since Robert Downey Jr. swaggered into the Iron Man armor. Mel Brooks once famously described his films as rising below vulgarity, and whether Reynolds is taking time out to break the fourth wall or making incredibly lewd comments at his blind, elderly, female roommate, he’s bringing the spirit of “Blazing Saddles” to a genre that sometimes really needs to get over itself. In a year where “Batman vs. Superman” took itself more seriously than a second heart attack, Reynolds’s Merc with a Mouth is the filthy, over-the-top cure the doctor ordered.

And my top two performances, starting with my choice for Best Actress:

Isabelle Huppert (Elle)

In arguably the most challenging role this year, which comes in certainly the most challenging film, Huppert plays a woman who, after being raped, plays a cat-and-mouse game with the rapist. Whether she is trying to catch him or get caught again is another question. The role was turned down by multiple more well-known actresses, before being taken by Huppert, who deserves to be more well-known outside her native France. Key to her performance is that her character is not altogether very likable, and if she were not a victim of a heinous crime, you’d have a real difficult time feeling empathy for her. That takes far more guts, I think, than playing out brutal scenes of assault, since we tend to demand our heroines be pure as the driven snow.

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

He’s been turning in the best work he possibly can in every role he’s had, big or small, for two decades, always overshadowed in fame by his older brother, but this year is Casey’s. Angry, violent, adrift and bereft, Lee Chandler is a man with no purpose in a world that demands every man have one, not that he grasps himself on that level: he’s simply a man who has been struck over and over until nothing but armor remains. Forced to deal with the issue of custody for his nephew after his brother dies, he portrays a truth no man wants to face: not all of us are cut out for responsibility. Despite this, Affleck walks a fine line, making Lee simultaneously a jerk and someone you’d really like to see come out on top. Unfortunately, as Lee well knows, the world just isn’t that simple.

Honorable mentions: I limited my list to 15, and even after expanding from ten it was still difficult. There are lots of great roles that didn’t make the cut, and here are the ten that really gave the winners a run for their money, in one big list. If you don’t see your favorite, remember: it doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t good, just that I can’t possibly list them all.

Kristen Stewart (Cafe Society)
The Cast of Don’t Think Twice
Royalty Hightower (The Fits)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Lou de Laage (The Innocents)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Pretty much everybody in Moonlight (Moonlight)
Katie Holmes (Touched With Fire)

10

SKETCHY BEHAVIORS | Jennifer Parks (Portland, OR)

We’ve been following the magical and mystical artwork of Portland artist Jennifer Parks whose drawings of witches, women, and woodland creatures bring a dark delight to our sensibilities.  Not only does Jennifer create these fantastical illustrations and ceramics, but also helps to curate and organize shows at the artist run space, Pony Club in Portland.  We’re excited to feature Jennifer’s art and talk to her about her influences, artistic process, and find out more what she’s up too in the rest of 2017! 

Artist portrait by Richard Darbonne | Images courtesy of the artist

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The Interview

A Sebastian Stan one-shot

Pairing: Sebastian Stan x Reader

Word Count: 938

Warnings: Fluffy inside :)

Author’s Note: This is my first Sebastian Stan fanfic and the first one I’m posting on Tumblr and the first one in English (which is not my native language, just so you know ;) I hope you enjoy, if you do, drop me a note!


It’s the little things that make Sebastian Stan smile

BY CHRISTOPHER MCEVOY

PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRIAN CHALMERS

MARCH 5, 2020

 It seems like the entire world finally knows who Sebastian Stan is. The actor, born in Romania and currently living in New York, first got noticed when playing the role of James ‘Bucky’ Barnes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But a lot has happened since the infamous metal arm. He starred alongside Oscar winning actresses like Margot Robbie in I, Tonya and Nicole Kidman in Destroyer and last Winter he finished filming for the highly anticipated movie adaption of the bestselling YA novel ‘Dark’.

 I caught up with Sebastian in the lobby of the Bel Air hotel in Los Angeles and talked about his portrayal of the evil King and the recent rumors regarding his love life.

 You’ve played a variety of characters, from a Russian assasin to an abusive husband, but this is the first villain who’s downright insane. Is that what attracted you in the script?

Yes, definitely. Villains are so much more interesting to play and especially this one, because of his state of mind. He reminded me a bit of John Doe from Se7en and also of Alan Rickmans brilliant Sherrif of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves. In other roles I always try to bring some humanity to the villain, but in this case I just went for it and got as crazy as they let me.

 What kind of research did you do to prepare for  this role?

I think the first thing I did, and this was even before I auditioned, was go online and read everything I could find on King Richard and watch clips of historical movies set in the Middle Ages, such as Kingdom of Heaven. I wanted to capture that regal poise and mix it up with a sort of childish anger. After I got the part I talked a lot about it with [Y/N] [Y/N, author of  ‘Dark’ ] She has written a separate short story from the Kings point of view about the pivotal moment that changed his life. That alone was very helpful for me to understand where he came from and acted as a base for me to build the character on.

 Did you meet her on set?

We actually met for the first time right before my audition, [pauses and smiles] which is a story she’d encourage me to tell you if she was here. I came in early that day and she was sitting there as well, so I asked her if she was there for the audition. She said yes and we got talking about the script and how amazing it was. Then the director walked in, who straight away gave her a hug, turned to me and and said: so you’ve already met [Y/N]? I had no idea. You can imagine how embarrassed I was, but she just stood behind him with the biggest grin on her face. She totally got me.

 About [Y/N], rumors that you might be more than friends recently went sky high after some video’s and pictures you posted on your Instagram account.

 [laughs] We actually talked about his last night, if this question would come up, what I would say. We agreed it was time for the truth. God, that sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

 And the truth is?

Well, the thruth is that I woke up next to her this morning. And I’ll wake up next to her tomorrow and hopefully for the rest of my life.

 Does it bother you when people have strong opinions about your private life?

It doesn’t necessarily bother me, because everybody is entitled to have an opinion, but it’s more that I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal to some. I mean, we are just two people that were lucky enough to meet eachother at the right place, right time and fell in love.

 What was it that made you fall in love with her?

Oh, she’s amazing. She’s very aware of her life and what she is able to do with it. The fact that she wrote this book and made her dreams come true says a lot about her personality. She inspires me with her ambition and her positivity,  but other than that it’s the little things, like her smile and the twinkle in her eyes when she talks about something she’s excited about.  And fun. We have a lot of fun together.

 Last question; will this movie live up to the expectations of the dedicated fans?

I’m certain it will. I’ve seen some raw material that literally took my breath away. Not just visually, but the acting of these young people is beyond anything I’ve seen. Not only are they the ones that take this story up to where it belongs, I believe they will inspire their generation to walk their own paths and fight for what it right.

*

After the interview we head out to the garden where Sebastian poses for our photographer, when his phone suddenly beeps and he politely apologizes before he takes it out of the pocket of his blue jacket. A wide grin spreads across his face as he reads the message on the screen. “Like I said”, he smiles. “It’s the little things”  

He’s… Mercurial. Shear talent. A genius. One of the leading actors in the world. An incredibly formidable presence. A Porsche 911.

Great people about Cumberbatch.

“Hands down, I believe that he’s the most versatile, surprising and charismatic actors of our time.” Christina Bianco, actress


“Benedict transforms, he doesn’t act. He becomes Turing.”, Morten Tyldum, director


"Even as a 13-year old, he was obviously an outstanding actor - a combination of intuition and intellect. It’s probably once in a lifetime that you find a boy actor as magnificent as this. I don’t think I had to speak or work with him in any way when I was directing him. I felt like I was working with a fellow professional rather than a schoolboy.” Mr. Tyrell, Cumberbatch’s acting teacher in Harrow


“Benedict is witty, mercurial… thoughtful and expert. He’s very intelligent but he doesn’t let it show by commenting on the character he is playing.” Richard Eyre, theater director


"He has a sensibility and an oddness to him… and a directness and a fantastic sense of humor (…) So I respect him on a pretty fundamental level (…) He’s an actor who has the ability to play in the outer field of basic acting work (…) He is a very generous, very sensitive, very thoughtful, focused, disciplined actor and, you know, when you work with somebody like that it’s just like playing… like Ronnie Scotts with B.B. King… it’s just a question of when or if… you know when someone’s got it and he’s got it.” Tom Hardy, actor


“He’s a fabulous actor and happens to have the zeitgeist. Sherlock has lifted him into a global star but he manages to combine stardom with utter brilliance which is really rare.” Hay Festival director Peter Florence


“Cumberbatch is a remarkable actor. He can quietly project the inner turmoil that more animated actors can only mimic.” Matthew Gilbert, TV critic


“Benedict Cumberbatch is shear talent. I mean he’s such a fantastically talented actor. He has a marvelous look of course, he has cheekbones you could shave Parmesan of and he’s just a magnificently talented actor. I’ve seen him do so many different things, with such style and he’s also an incredibly nice man and he deserves the enormous acclaim he receives around the world.” Stephen Fry, actor


“He is phenomenal. The amount of work that goes into his roles, he has a great work ethic and a genius mind, he is so inspiring. He really raised the bar for me and he had this integrity and genuineness. I feel really blessed to have worked with him. Plus he is so much fun, he’s become a good friend.” Adelaide Clemens, actress


“Everytime Benedict Cumberbatch opens his mouth it is positively electric… At the time I was getting really into Sherlock series one and I was just totally hypnotized by Benedict and I said to JJ ‘You gotta watch this guy, and one thing let to another and… Thank God! …. All credit goes to Benedict but I was smart enough to realize he is a genius.” Damon Lindelof, screenwriter


"I didn’t really know him as a stage actor. I knew what a fine screen actor he is. But there’s a physicality involved in the theatre. It’s not just about mannerisms or impersonation, which screen often is: it’s about sustaining a narrative with mind and body. When I saw him for Frankenstein, that was the only thing I wanted to know. Did he have that physical capacity? And of course he does. We met and I asked him to do a few things and he was extraordinary in the room. He’s as fit as a boxer, which you have to be for the stage. You have to have an internal fitness that allows you to carry the story so it never sags. He had this combination of the cerebral and the physical which you can see when you look back at his screen work – in Hawking, it’s there. Frankenstein was a great one for using it. That’s why he’s now what he is: one of the leading actors in the world.” Danny Boyle, director


“He’s a genius. There are certain actors who have the ability to take a line of dialogue and add a ring to it that you didn’t even know you put into the dialogue, into the line. And he’s one of those really brilliant actors. Just listening to him talk…you could enjoy him reading the phone book.(…) And he’s an incredibly formidable presence. He’s amazing.” Alex Kurtzman, screenwriter


“We found Benedict Cumberbatch fairly early. We needed a very good actor, someone young enough to be believable as an aristocratic, an almost slightly dislikeable character who is an adolescent in terms of his views of the world, his upbringing. But we also needed someone who could hold the screen for four and half hours, in every scene. We needed someone with experience who was not only a very good actor, but also with terrific comic timing. Benedict was the ideal answer to that.” David Attwood, director (To the ends of the earth)


“Everyone just looked at it and went “Oh. All right.” Meryl looked at me and gave me a big smile, which is Meryl’s way of saying “Well done”. It was not the best quality you’ve ever seen. And his face was very close. But he was wonderful. At first I didn’t realize that he was British because his southern Oklahoma accent was very good. There’s nothing guarded about him. It can be a little daunting because you have the clear impression at all times that he might be more intelligent than you are.” John Wells, director, about Cumberbatch’s iPhone auditioning for August: Osage County


“The difference between stars and just great actors is that stars can make parts into them, rather than themselves into parts; they make those people them. They never quite play it like you expect them to, so it becomes very much Benedict’s Sherlock. Look at how Sean Connery owned James Bond.” Steven Moffat, producer and writer


“He’s a stick shift; he’s changing up and changing down. He’s a Porsche 911.” Gary Oldman, actor


“I would like to officialy declare my love for Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, that’s right. I’m in love with him.” Paul Feig, director


“He’s an immersive actor; he’s physical. You have to keep feeding him, trying to keep him stimulated. The engine has to be stoked all the time. The joke is that Hollywood thinks it’s investigating him right now to see what he’s made of. The truth is: He’s investigating them.” Danny Boyle, director


“Watching him physically train to play James (He dieted, ran the cliffs and swam in the cold sea), and also delve into the meaning of every line in rehearsals, and then plot the effect of his illness on his body and mind as it would be in each scene (shot in the wrong order), while all the while being a joy to be around was impressive to witness. To see it as one performance in the final cut was remarkable. - He is rare even amongst the acting breed. If the character description says handsome: he is. If it says Nasty: he is. Older: he is… Younger: he is. For this reason I just can’t wait to see what he will become.” Vaughan Sivell, producer and screen writer („Third Star“)


“Being on the set with him… I think everyone was bringing their absolute A-game. I think, frankly, in a way, [his] presence sort of elevated everything. Time and again, every scene, Benedict brought a surprising, unexpected, grounded, real and often terrifying aspect to the role. So we are incredibly grateful, all of us.” JJ Abrams, director


“Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my very favorite — excuse me, favourite — actors today, and he brought his brilliant mixture of confidence and strength to Khan in a way that, with all due respect, Montalban never did. Never once does Cumberbatch make the obvious choice, his performance is always subtle, always controlled, and when he finally goes full-Khan, scary as hell.” Will Wheaton, actor


“I think he’ll be one of the guys who lasts, that’s my take. It’s what George [Clooney] said to me ten years ago: If you can pull off ten years in this business, then you’ve done something, and we both kind of agreed that that was kind of the benchmark. And I think [Cumberbatch] is of the new crop.” Matt Damon, actor


“Benedict Cumberbatch is truly one of the greatest actors I’ve ever seen. And my favorite thing about him in this movie is that instead of his bad guy being adorned and wearing some crazy mask and costume and hair… he is just a simple man standing in a black shirt and black pants, just a common man… and his performance is so powerful in it’s simplicity… and that to me was an incredibly exciting thing to see: how little he needed to be that powerful.” JJ Abrams, director


“When he was at school, parents came to see him in plays their own children weren’t in - THAT is how good he is.” Tatler magazine


“Yes, Benedict has darkness. He has a light, brilliance, wit, sophistication, an imposing presence. He’s threatening; he’s physical. He’s also sympathetic. He does these things and makes it all look so damn easy. And the other actors … it was so funny. Every time we were doing a scene with Benedict, they were standing a little bit taller. He has a presence that is ridiculous and that voice, oh my God. There wasn’t a day working with Benedict that I didn’t think, this is insane. He elevated that moment. He made that thing that I thought was going to be really hard, authentic. He’s not like his character in any way, physically or emotionally, but he transformed himself physically. He was suddenly this wildly intimidating big guy. And he’s not. When you talk to him, he’s sort of slight. But in the movie, I spent a year editing him (Benedict’s footage). So it was like I got to see him every day. I got so used to him as that character. So when I saw him again recently, I thought, God, he’s so small, compared to how he is in the movie—he’s so epic. He is an utter chameleon who I think can do anything. He’s one of the best actors I’ve ever seen, let alone worked with. He was able to bring all of these incredible nuances and attitude to a role that in lesser hands would not have worked remotely that well.” JJ Abrams, director

anonymous asked:

Hi M! I was wondering if you could tell us a bit more about Meredith's character? (Like you've done with Wren and Alexander). I sometimes feel like I get her, but other times I really don't. Like why did she go through the guys in the group like that? (started with James, then Richard, then Oliver) Did she just want to have sex with all the guys in the group? Did she want to pair up with the best male actor? And what has been people's general response to her as a character? Thanks!

Meredith has spent her entire life being made to think that her personal worth is dependent on her sex appeal. That is a very, very difficult lesson to un-learn, and it is a large part of the reason that she craves romantic attachment; she sees it as a form of validation. She has also spent her entire life starved for the attention and approval of the male figures in her family, so she looks for it from other men. She’s been conditioned to think (partly by the society she’s grown up in, partly by people like Gwendolyn who insist on casting and costuming her the way they do, and partly by her father’s and brothers’ disinterest) that the only reason a man would ever take an interest in her would be sexual, so that’s how she pursues it. That moment James mentions–“Decided she wanted me and assumed I wanted her, because doesn’t everyone?”–isn’t about arrogance. It’s about insecurity. (It’s remarkable how often those two things look the same.) James misrepresents it because he has his own issues with Meredith, is consistently hypercritical of her, and in this instance is actively trying to make her look bad. He’s a good representation of how men (and women) have been treating her all her life: dismissive, superior, and suspicious of her intentions. (His questions are actually not so far off from the ones you’re asking. Does she just want to have sex with everyone? Does she just want to pair up with the best male actor? None of the automatic assumptions are good or even neutral ones. Is it so crazy to think that she actually just liked them all individually at different points in time? Three people in four years is not that many, and it’s not surprising they might come from the pool of people you work most closely with. Yet we tend to leap to the worst conclusions. Food for thought.)

It’s perfectly possible I haven’t written her well enough for all this to come across, but she deserves more credit than James (and many others) give her, and that’s where Oliver comes in. Oliver, unlike James and Richard and most of the other people she’s had occasion to interact with in her life–Alexander and Filippa and even Colborne make suggestive jokes about her–does not see her as just a set of homewrecking curves walking around. And when he does catch himself treating her that way, he recognizes that behavior as (1) learned and (2) not good, and makes a conscious effort to improve that. Is he attracted to her? Absolutely. But he also respects her, and that’s the big difference.

To answer your questions about people’s responses to Meredith, they have definitely been varied, but what I think is most telling is that people who are older (and especially women who are a little bit older) tend to be more forgiving of her, and much more sympathetic. I think that’s partly because they’ve just had more time to see how how badly the world can mess young women up. Meredith has a lot of problems. She is often unpleasant and for a lot of people totally unlikable. But she’s not just a sex-crazed pretty bitch, and part of her story arc is her realizing that she’s not a sex-crazed pretty bitch, which is the role she’s been cast in, in life as onstage, time out of mind. Her life is harder than it looks, and she is more fragile than she seems.  

We all know Hamlet. Or, certainly, some part of Hamlet: snippets from the seven famous soliloquies, a brooding man holding a skull, Reviving Ophelia. It’s known. I thought I knew it, anyway, as a former theater student who, like many, has read and seen the play several times in various forms. (Does The Lion King count too?)

Honestly, though? I don’t know that I’d ever really gotten the play—its towering drama, the dizzying poetry of its language—before seeing director Sam Gold’s production at the Public Theater, starring Oscar Isaac. (It runs now through September 3.) Ominous and earthy (at times quite literally), Gold’s Hamlet has a simple, tactile charge, one that truly, in the least corny of senses, brings Shakespeare to life. The production is given extra, invaluable electricity by its star, whose crisply legible, fiercely intelligent performance confirms for me what I’ve long suspected: Oscar Isaac is the best dang actor of his generation.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

forgive me if this has already been asked- what do you think of judy poovey's role in the secret history? i think that her outside perspective on the situation could have been interesting but it seemed like donna tartt reduced her a bit, to just wanting to sleep with richard

At last something about Judy! Actually, nobody has ever asked about her. 

I love Judy very much and I do think she is underused (or rather, that her role is key but very subtle) in The Secret History. Judy is the human one; the plebeian; the real world, so distasteful, so archaic for Richard that he chose to turn his back on it (despite it being very welcoming toward him) to enter a sheltered microcosmos where he would be doomed to remain a lesser creature; a mortal; an outsider.

Her perspective on the characters and situation is indeed very interesting : she expresses what the outside world thinks about the Greek class, and how people in their right mind should react to them. She’s not perfect herself, don’t get me wrong, but she displays mistrust towards the clique, reacts violently to their elitism, their privilege, and their overall struggle for dominance (over people who don’t care about them or their obsolete view of hierarchy). This is why she has a quarrel with Camilla, and judges Henry from afar. Worlds clashing instead of colliding.

Judy is reduced to a cliché through Richard’s objectifying gaze, but I think she does display more depth than what Richard chooses to see. Most notably, I don’t feel like her behaviour translates as “just wanting to sleep with Richard”. She cares after him, asking about his health, powering through his mood swings, offering him the only solace she is able to provide (drugs, pills, or affection). She has a motherly, loving side that Richard overlooks because it doesn’t fit the label he wants to stick on her forehead - namely, the whore (in comparison to Camilla’s sainthood), the idiot (in comparison to Henry’s genius), the girly girl (again versus Camilla’s lovely nonchalance, never talking about clothes, prettily clad but covered-up, make-up free, the androgynous vision).

What motivates his distate for Judy? Rampant misogyny, for one thing (a girl cannot be clever and serious when she pursues such superficial endeavours,  drama or fashion design; a girl cannot be deep if she is popular and fun-loving in a conventional way), and disgusting elitism : Richard is crippled with an inferiority complex that allows for his constant trying to escape his own condition, notably by trying to elevate himself over others (the plebeians again, the “normal” students in Hampden). Because he is supposedly not “like the others” (i. e., better than the others), because he firmly believes to be the hero of his story, he will not condescend to make friends with those who accept him and seem to care for him, but rather will stick along with those who fit his ideas of perfection and superiority.

Judy’s characterisation is in any case very limited, and very problematic. It may be solely because of Richard’s own stellar characterisation and consequent unreliable narration, which also throws a limiting and toxic light on Camilla’s character, or… or maybe Donna Tartt isn’t very good with female characters. The more I read and think about the girls in Tartt’s books, the more uncomfortable I feel. I don’t want Donna Tartt to suffer from internalised misogyny. I want to believe that her biting insight steers and drives the poisonous gaze of her male characters, and highlights the societal problems hidden underneath. I want to believe that all this is conscious. But the fact is, most of her female characters are under-developed, idealised, objectified, or even hollow —Camilla, Judy, Allison, Pippa, Kitsey, those are all tortured by her male protagonists, and exist only through the lens of the siffling, oppressive men in their lives.

12 Takeaways From Michael Jackson’s Thriller

(DISCLAIMER:This is a bit of a read.If you enjoy reading and music,I think you’ll like this.)

1982 was a year in music where a telephone number could function as a catchy rock song chorus (Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny”),where continents could get mad love or representation via Billboard-worthy singles (Toto’s “Africa” and Men At Work’s “Down Under”),and where “the number of the beast” was less a harbinger of earth’s impending apocalypse and more a heavy metal masterwork (Iron Maiden’s album and song of the same name.) It was a year that announced the arrival and breaking through of two artists that,together with Michael Jackson,would form the trinity of Eighties musical titans (Madonna and Prince,respectively.) As a rapper,it would be shameful if I didn’t mention that 1982 was also a year where hip-hop was given a good,hard,from-behind shove into the mainstream courtesy of Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five’s seven-minute long rap treatise of ghetto life that was “The Message” and Afrika Bambaataa And The Soul Sonic Force’s Kraftwerk-inspired piece of rap/electro bliss that was “Planet Rock.” (The latter song also spawned the freestyle subgenre of electronic music due to its Roland TR-808 generated drum track that became freestyle’s default rhythm setting.)

With 1982 having already served up more than a generous helping of killer tunes (enough to make for an extensive and excellent playlist in today’s terms),a nice portion of tasty albums (Roxy Music’s Avalon,Duran Duran’s Rio,and the aforementioned Iron Maiden offering of Number Of The Beast,to name a few),and a few watershed moments for burgeoning styles of music,it was only appropriate that the King Of Pop enter into the arena and throw his hat in the ring.On November 30th of that year,Thriller was released and the album would go on to not only be a monster smash but a game-changer in the music industry.

As a kindergarten-age pup at the time of Thriller’s release,I had no awareness or understanding of the significance of that moment in recorded music history.My concerns were not of the transpirations within pop music as they were with having fun with die-cast dinky cars.Fortunately,given that Thriller was a mammoth pop record and there was some adroit promotion of it,it was still scorching hot product nearly two years after its coming-out and,as such,ties into a few of my childhood memories that were made when the buzz about Thriller was at its loudest.After undergoing the lengthy transition from being a young boy who enjoyed looking through his father’s collection of 45-rpm vinyl records and playing around with a Casio keyboard to a grown adult that had a fiery passion for music and who immersed himself in the making of it,Thriller became more than just something I listened to for pleasure and entertainment.Having become cognizant of how big Thriller was in terms of sales,production,impact on popular culture,and influence on future music acts,the album was an object of thorough and serious study as it provided me with valuable education on how to make great music.

All that aside,it’s mind blowing that three-and-a-half decades have elapsed since Michael Jackson dropped the highest selling album of all-time on the world like a large nuclear warhead.On the anniversary of its release,I offer my twelve takeaways from what I deem to be the GOAT of all albums.

12.“BRUUUUUCE!”  

Rarely,if ever,does a major-label recording artist or band make an album completely on their own.Looking at the personnel listing of Thriller,Michael Jackson had a small army of talented musicians to help him make the record.Among all of the names were three men whom-along with Jackson-formed an indomitable foursome.There was super-producer Quincy Jones (whom I’ll get to later on),British songwriter extraordinaire Rod Temperton,and Bruce Swedien.

The mention of “Bruce Swedien” to your average Joe (or JoAnne) would probably get a “who’s that?” in reply.If they ever saw him,they might think Swedien played in the movie Cocoon and did commercials for Quaker Oats and Liberty Medical (diabeetis!) In the music producer community,however,Swedien is something of an engineering O.G.that has probably forgotten more about recording and mixing than most people would ever come to know.When the man speaks,you listen because you might damn well end up learning something that will make you a better producer.But I digress.

Thriller was an ambitious project.Included within its lofty goals was-in Quincy Jones’ words-to “save the music industry” and for the album to represent the gold standard of sound and production.With production credentials dating all the way back to Count Freakin’ Basie,Swedien’s experience and expertise made him the right man for a big job.And,boy,did Swedien ever deliver as the production value on Thriller is quite high.The uptempo tracks on the album have a Sugar Ray Leonard-type punch to them and it’s that punch which makes them exciting and exuberant pieces of pop music.There’s a clarity of elements in every cut off Thriller and good use of the stereo panorama where Michael Jackson’s vocals are almost hugged by the backing instrumentation in a way that isn’t suffocating.And something should be said about the convergence of Hollywood and pop music via the creepy and cinematic sound effects on Thriller’s titular track.In short,Thriller is a fine example of what a pop record should sound like but rarely,if ever,does nowadays with loudness being prioritized over the preservation of dynamic range or the maintenance of good mixing work. Though the time that Thriller was made and vinyl records still being an absolutely necessary medium of music distribution played a large role in the album’s production quality,Swedien’s work enabled the record to hold up nicely against those of the future that would be combatants in “the loudness wars.” It’s pretty safe to say that Thriller might very well not be the album it is or possess the sound that it does without Bruce Swedien’s miking and mixing prowess.That said,we should all give him the props that he deserves.

11.Getting sued sucks.But sometimes it isn’t always so bad.

I know,it’s easy to say when you’ve never been litigated against.I’m sure that no one in human history that has been made a defendant in a legal matter was overjoyed by the possibility of having to fork over some coin due to some allegation of negligence or infringement.That includes Michael Jackson,who was made subject to a lawsuit by Cameroonian artist Manu Dibango for the use of  "mama say,mama sa,ma ma coosa" in “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”

One can’t fault Dibango for filing suit against Jackson.After all,recording artists tend to get anal if one of their contemporaries pilfer or appropriate material that was borne from their creativity without so much as a request for permission of use and pursue legal action in response.Though Jackson had to compensate Dibango with more than just a few Cameroonian francs in an out-of-court settlement,it was more of a gain than a loss.For starters,the moolah that Jackson gave Dibango was a drop in the bucket to the haul that Jackson would eventually receive from sales of Thriller.It was not a bank-breaker for Jackson by any means.If anything,it was an investment into what has to be the best part of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” Though there may not be a direct connection between the song’s subject matter and the “mama say,mama sa,ma ma coosa” which is repeated several times near the song’s ending,it’s easy to overlook.This is mainly due to the fact that it’s so damn catchy.If the chorus hook with its “yeah,yeah” doesn’t embed the song in your grey matter for some time after hearing it,the inclusion of the “Soul Makossa” chant is insurance that it will.It’s triumphant,joyous,and it’s a stroke of genius that isn’t restricted to achieving maximum catchiness to the song.In the something-for-everybody approach that Thriller seemed to take premeditatively,the borrowing of “Soul Makossa” for its opening jam infused a world music flavor-specifically of the West African variety-into a Western pop song and it may also be a young black artist’s musical acknowledgement of his mother continent.That said,it was worth every franc that Jackson doled out.

10.Eddie Van Halen was a bowse.

Before 1978,there was no shortage of guitarists that axe enthusiasts could revere or be influenced by.Page,Clapton,Blackmore,Iommi,Hendrix,Richards,Gilmour,and Beck were just a few names within the pantheon of string-plucking deities.Then along came a Dutch guy with a bad ass last name whose incendiary and almost futuristic guitar playing put him atop Olympus.Edward Van Halen was on a whole ‘nother level and no one,save for the equally gifted Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osborne’s guitarist),was in the same tier.Sadly,Rhoads’ young life was cut short in a March 1982 plane crash and his death left Van Halen alone at the top.Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones needed a guitar solo for the pop-rock combo of “Beat It” and “VH” was the most logical guy to go to first.

Right from the get-go,Van Halen was in bowse mode.He hung up the phone on Quincy Jones assuming that it was a prank call.Then he defied the “no doing anything outside of the band” rule that he and his Van Halen bandmates had by going down to Westlake Studios in L.A. and contributing to “Beat It.” Then he set one of the monitor speakers in the studio’s control room on fire in the process of laying down a seventeen-bar guitar solo for the ages that he didn’t even ask a dime for! However,the bowse didn’t stop there.When his Van Halen mates found out about their guitarist’s breaking of band rules and told him that he was foolish for doing pro bono work on someone else’s project,Eddie fluffed it off and stated that he knew what he was doing and he wouldn’t have done it if he didn’t want to.

Behind the dazzling and superhuman guitar shredding is a real dude that does whatever the hell he wants and doesn’t care.Bowse.

9.“The Girl Is Mine” was a significant moment in music history.

Perhaps rightfully so to an extent,“The Girl Is Mine” deserved the flak that it got from music critics.Though not a terrible piece of music,it likely was a wasting of potential that a Paul McCartney-Michael Jackson duet could have otherwise yielded and it does require a suspension of disbelief to listen to (although that potential ended up being better met the following year on McCartney’s “Say Say Say.”) Two guys fighting over a girl often get violent with each other and don’t use words like “doggone” in their exchange (maybe “goddamn” but not “doggone.”) Furthermore,if you’re going to make a song based upon that concept,it’s better to give it the  crunchy,heavy,aggressive,and hard-edged sound of “Beat It” than it is to make it an ultra-sugary soft rock number.Nonetheless,it was a hit and probably so because it was aimed squarely at the older crowd,many whom indubitably met ex-Beatle McCartney and his fellow invaders from the British Isles with anything but resistance and rancor. 

When you look beyond the saccharine character of “The Girl Is Mine” and examine the whole of the song,the significance of it becomes more visible.Macca and MJ teaming up to do a song was not only significant in that it was a pairing of legends on the same track but that it was a symbolic “coming together” (Beatle pun intended) of two major pieces of twentieth century music history:The British Invasion and Motown.

8.If it wasn’t for Peggy Lipton…

Let’s first establish who Peggy Lipton is before I proceed.Lipton is an actress who’s perhaps best known for serving up coffee and cherry pie as Norma Jennings on the iconic television series Twin Peaks.At the time of Thriller,Lipton was Quincy Jones’ wifey-poo and,as such,her lingerie and Hollywood connections would result in her making a contribution to parts of the album.

Yes,Peggy Lipton’s intimate wear did indeed contribute to Thriller.Jones noticed that the lingerie said “pretty young things” on them which,in turn,caused a light bulb to appear over his head.His spouse inadvertently gave him at the very least a title to a song that could go on a Michael Jackson album and eventually did with the James Ingram-penned “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).” Aside from being a bouncy,relatively funky tune that perhaps gave a passing nod to the electro genre that was gaining steam at the time (with its vocoder elements),“P.Y.T.” exists as a musical testament to artistic inspiration sometimes coming from the most unlikely or unexpected things.

Probably of more importance than her lingerie being the origin of “P.Y.T.” was Lipton’s role in having a big-named movie star do a feature on “Thriller.” The song was already a danceable number that,at its surface,seemed like a celebration of the scary and horrific but there was something missing:A chilling spoken-word rap that gradually brought the song to its conclusion.Quincy Jones could envision horror-flick legend Vincent Price reciting this rap and Lipton did her part in making that a reality.Nowhere does Lipton’s name show up on the Thriller personnel listing or in the songwriting credits but she helped in more than a small capacity,whether she intended to or not.

Speaking of Price…

7.Vincent Price sorta got shafted.

One would think that Price’s evil,reverb-drenched laughter at the end of “Thriller” alone would have had the ducats coming into his estate even now never mind the rest of his masterful recitation of Rod Temperton’s Edgar Allan Poe-like spoken-word rap.Nope.Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones paid a rather low “price” for Vincent’s feature on “Thriller.” $1,000 was what it cost to get the horror film star to be at his most creepy over top haunting and ominous pipe organ chords that have “Baroque period” written all over them.Obviously,the one-off deal was great for Jackson because he got a Hollywood icon on his record for cheap.The deal worked the other way around for Price whom,after seeing “Thriller” blow up the way it did,got salty about getting a measly grand for his feature.He attempted to reach out to Jackson with the intentions of appealing for a more generous compensation and was ignored.

On one hand,Price had no right to seek out more money for his cameo on “Thriller.” After all,if he wanted a handsome sum of dolla,dolla bills,he could have used his celebrity and legacy to negotiate something with Jackson and Jones that was fair for all parties instead of agreeing to a one-off that would put only ten “benjamins” in his pocket.Price made the regrettable mistake of undervaluing his own talent and,rather than let it be a live-and-learn experience,he wanted to renegotiate a done deal.

However,it’s hard to be devoid of sympathy for Price.He put down perhaps the most epic poetry reading ever through his magnificent voice-acting and gave “Thriller” the piece it needed to complete its spooky picture.The fact that neither Jackson or Jones revisited their deal with Price when the song had proven to be a hit and offered him more on the basis of it being the morally right thing to do was something of a douchebag move.It certainly wasn’t one of Jackson’s or Jones’ shining moments,to say the least. 

6.It’s a good thing that Quincy Jones let one particular demo casette play.

Toto guitarist Steve Lukather,drummer Jeff Porcaro,and keyboardists David Paich and Steve Porcaro were making contributions to Thriller while concurrently working on their own band’s 1982 project Toto IV.En route to the recording studio,Steve Porcaro had gone to visit his young daughter that had been living with his “baby mama.” After arriving,he’d been informed about his little girl’s terrible day at school,one that saw her being pushed off a slide by a boy.When asked by his daughter “why” this boy would do that to her,Porcaro told her that the boy probably liked her and that it was “human nature.” In trying to explain to the best of his ability to his emotional young child why a boy could be so mean to her,it inspired Porcaro to later come up with a song called “Human Nature.” He recorded a demo of the song on a casette tape.

David Paich was working on some keyboard grooves for Quincy Jones in this time frame.Knowing that Jones’ assistant was going to stop by,Paich asked Porcaro-whom was staying at Paich’s house-if he could make a casette with what Paich had been working on for Jones.Realizing that they had run out of tapes,Porcaro recorded Paich’s material on the A-side of the casette that he had put the “Human Nature” demo on and eventually gave it to Jones’ assistant.Jones was listening to Paich’s grooves and ended up becoming preoccupied with something in his office,which allowed the A-side to play all the way through and for the auto-reverse feature on Jones’ casette player to run the B-side of the tape.Porcaro’s demo caught Jones’ attention and he asked Porcaro if “Human Nature” could be used on Thriller.After being given the green light from Porcaro,Jones enlisted songwriter John Bettis to replace Porcaro’s original lyrics as Jones wasn’t too keen on them (save for the “why,why” and “tell them that it’s human nature” stuff.) The inclusion of “Human Nature” to Thriller gave a song called “Carousel” the swift boot off the album.Though “Carousel” (later released as a bonus track on a re-issue of Thriller) was a fairly decent track that was so wonderfully early-Eighties in its sound,“Human Nature” was leagues above it.Being my favorite cut off Thriller,there’s so much right about “Human Nature.” Jackson’s vocal delivery is breathy and from a place deep in his soul.The song’s lyrics,with its clever metaphors and its underlying meaning,are well-written.The synth melodies are aural candy and sound like they were composed in heaven.All in all,the song is a smooth R&B track that is perfect for something like a night drive in the city.

Quincy Jones was of the belief that a higher power had a hand in making Thriller the successful pop masterpiece that it is.“Human Nature” making it on to the album could very well be an attestation that divine forces were at play.Had Jones not been involved in something,he may have stopped the tape after hearing Paich’s music and “Human Nature” wouldn’t have seen the light of day.Fortunately,things happened the way they did and a little girl’s lousy day at school was turned into something great.

5.“Billie Jean” was all types of crazy

According to Jackson,Billie Jean was purely a fictitious female that was MJ’s composite of all the groupies that he and his Jackson 5 brothers had to deal with.However,according to Jackson’s biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli,the song may have been inspired by an obsessed female fan that had taken her obsession with Jackson to great lengths.In 1981 (the year before Thriller),Jackson had been in receipt of a few letters from a chick claiming that he had been a father to one of her twins.In response to her paternity claims and her expressions of love for Jackson and her desire to have a family with him being ignored,she got angry and sent Jackson a parcel containing her photo,another letter,and a gun.In the letter,she instructed Jackson to commit suicide on a certain date and that she would do the same after murdering the baby that Jackson had supposedly impregnated her with.If Taraborrelli’s theory was correct that “Billie Jean” derived from something so chilling as to induce goosebumps and cause the tiny hairs on the back of the neck to rise,the song
was already crazy in the literal sense by who and what inspired it.

In the process of writing “Billie Jean,” Jackson’s life could have ended more prematurely than it did with his June 25,2009 death at the age of fifty.Being so absorbed in this song that he was working on,he was completely oblivious that the vehicle he was driving in had a fire going in it and he had to be made aware of the situation by an alert and concerned motorcyclist.Add another layer of crazy to the mix.

Then there was the song itself,which was a smash hit that went deep in the upper deck.Though “Human Nature” is my favorite MJ tune and personal bias could compel me to say that it’s the finest work in Jackson’s catalog,“Billie Jean” was perhaps Jackson’s magnum opus.From a musical standpoint,it had all the necessary ingredients for it to be a high-charting pop joint.The rhythm could implore one to get on the dance floor the very instant that the solo drum break starting “Billie Jean” off sounds.The bassline-a rather simple repetitive eight note sequence-grooves and can lodge itself in the listener’s head.The pre-chorus alone is hook-ish never mind the chorus itself,which is hook perfection.There’s the gradual introduction of funky synth,punctuated guitar,and dramatic string elements that keep the song interesting.And,yet,for all of the sheer pop goodness that “Billie Jean” offers,it just might be more frightening than “Thriller” because the subject fare of the song is far more real than zombies could ever be.“Billie Jean” may well be as much a song about paranoia as it is about what could result from being famous and messing with a girl that has “schemes and plans” behind her feminine wiles.Adding to the stark nature of the song is the conflict that Jackson seems to have within himself.On one hand,he declares with conviction that “Billie Jean is not my lover” and that her “kid is not my son.” On the other hand,his vocal delivery when he speaks of looking at a photo of the little boy and realizing “his eyes look like mine” is one of shock,fear,and resignation.It arouses wonderment whether Jackson’s repeating of “Billie Jean is not my lover” a number of times late in the song is an emphatic proclamation of his innocence or a convincing of everyone including himself that the truth is really a lie.It all makes “Billie Jean” a crazy good song.

If things weren’t crazy enough,the video for “Billie Jean”-deserving of its own exegesis-helped the fledgling MTV to soar into the mainstream.Furthermore,it was also the song to which Jackson-at the Motown 25 television special watched by an estimated 50-million people-created a craze by performing his famed “moonwalk” dance move for the first time.“Billie Jean” had every crazy base covered.

4.Thriller was almost as much Quincy Jones’ project as it was Michael Jackson’s

Michael Jackson is the only name that shows up on the cover of Thriller.And rightfully so,as he is the performer that’s front and center on the album.When all the other musicians and producers were finished with their work on the album,it was Jackson that took the songs from out of the studio and brought them to concert venues around the world.However,Thriller could have easily borne both Jackson and Jones’ names and it would have been fair.

Jones was in possession of some incredibly keen ears.One could have dropped a nickel on the ground from half a block away and Q would’ve likely heard it.Jones had an amazing acuity for sound that went to its deepest level.Maybe of greater importance was Jones’ encyclopedic knowledge of music.From that,Q’s instincts were more often than not trustworthy when it came to chasing down a hit song.He could discern what would make a musical work fly and what could cause it to flop.Michael Jackson wanted to make a killer album and he knew that Q would make the odds of him doing so quite favorable.It likely took no arm-twisting for Jones to get on board with Jackson’s vision and become as invested in it as Jackson was.Part of Jones’ investment may have been spurred by what he would stand to gain if this album had succeeded in meeting all of its goals:A boatload of money and a larger-than-life addition to his CV.But it’s hard not to get the sense that Thriller was a labor of love for Q,one that not only involved a love for good music and the making of such but a love that he felt for the artist with whom he was working.The relationship between Jackson and Jones wasn’t solely a professional one,which meant that Jones had a more deeply personal interest in making Thriller a big-time record and giving the young pop singer he had been mentor to with the needed fuel to be a superstar.In so doing,Jones-along with Jackson-had went through approximately 700 demo recordings and only committed what was felt to be the creme de la creme to the album.

It was Jones who,inspired by The Knack’s “My Sharona,” came up with the idea of having Jackson foray into rock territory and who could visualize Eddie Van Halen performing a guitar solo in the instrumental midbreak of what became “Beat It.” It was Jones who felt that a recitation of a spoken-word rap in the outro of “Thriller” was needed and he could hear Vincent Price doing it.And,when the initial finished product of Thriller revealed a falling short of the desired goal for its sound upon play through,it was Jones who rallied the dejected troops to do what needed to be done to correct things with the deadline fast approaching.It was Jones who willingly took on the rigor and exhaustion that came with the production of a highly aspiring album.It’s beyond difficult to fathom Thriller being as magical or scintillating without “Q” as its executive producer.

3.Even the non-singles on Thriller were great tunes.

Though it’s a given that Thriller is a hit-laden,solid from first-to-last track album,saying that 77.8 percent of its songs were singles really illustrates how insanely good it is.(It bears a resemblance to a greatest hits compilation.) However,the other two cuts-or 22.2 percent-that weren’t singles are by no means filler material.“Baby Be Mine” is a danceable love tune that seemed to be a continuation of the Off The Wall sound,albeit in a punchy post-disco vein where synthesizers replaced the orchestral element (usually string sections) that was present in scads of disco tunes like Jackson’s own “Don’t Stop 'Til You Get Enough.” With “Baby Be Mine,” Jackson’s pre-Thriller fan base were able to enjoy some degree of consistency in Jackson’s sound while tweaks were made to it to veer away from disco and warmly embrace the Eighties.Then there’s “The Lady Of My Life,” a gorgeous love ballad that closes out Thriller.With Jackson’s soulful vocals,its heartfelt lyrics,and its warm R&B-meets-smooth jazz character,it might just be the perfect song for a newlywed man to put on and do his bride to.

“Baby Be Mine” and “The Lady Of My Life” could have probably been hits in themselves had they been on someone else’s album or not pitted against stiff competition on its own.However,despite being overshadowed by the more behemoth songs on Thriller,these two cuts were sparkling necessities for the whole of the record.

2.There is an irony in Thriller

If it’s not an irony,maybe it’s a paradox.If it’s neither,I don’t know what you would call it.

Prior to Thriller,Michael Jackson-inspired by Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” suite-wanted to make a colossal album that was the highest selling of all time and would launch him into the stratosphere of superstardom.And yet,something of a leitmotif is established on Thriller in the subject matter of 3 of the album’s nine tracks:Jackson’s dealings with the negative aspects of being a pop music luminary.Wasting no time,“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”-the lead off track on Thriller-is Jackson’s ebullient counterstrike on media and their propensity for sensationalism and gossip.Long before Jackson had faced scrutiny for the lightening of his skin color and the surgical alterations to his face as well as allegations of sexual misconduct toward children,he had an issue with bad press and the spreading of rumors.He likens being a celebrity to being a vegetable that “they”-most likely the media but not limited to-will feed off for their own survival or gain.Then there was “Billie Jean,” which I have already addressed in my fifth takeaway from Thriller. “Billie Jean” calls to mind Jackson’s earlier celebrity/vegetable analogy from “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” (Jackson does mention the name “Billie Jean” on that song) but,on this occasion,the one trying to do the feeding is a girl claiming Jackson’s paternity to her young child.Finally,on “Human Nature,” Jackson touches on his longing to step out into the city night and walk around like an average person instead of being cooped up in his room and insulated from the world which he was known all over.Part of Thriller in essence was Jackson expressing the discontentment he had with life in the spotlight and letting his listeners know that fame and fortune wasn’t all glitz and glamour.However,having been thrust into the spotlight as a young boy and being someone with an artistic soul,the possibility of giving up the life he’d known since his formative years and denying himself further opportunity to be creative wasn’t realistic.Perhaps resigning himself to the notion that fame was inescapable,Jackson decided to embrace it to the best of his ability and make himself as huge a star as a human could be.

1.Thriller established why Michael Jackson was (and still is) the King Of Pop

If Jackson’s fabulous 1979 effort Off The Wall wasn’t his coronation as pop music royalty,Thriller saw the diadem placed atop his jheri curls.Jackson raised the bar so high with Thriller that he made it near impossible for anyone,including himself,to elevate.Though his death forced him to abdicate his throne,he was buried with his crown.

One only needs to reference Thriller to understand why Jackson is pop music’s kingly figure.He was his harshest critic and a staunch perfectionist who never rested on his laurels.Though Off The Wall was a critically acclaimed album,he wasn’t entirely happy with it.It was like he was constantly nagged by the thought do more,do better.He set huge goals and then pushed himself hard to accomplish them.He had the right people working with him to make his vision a reality.Jackson embodied indefatigable work and relentless drive.

Whereas we might refer to all pop music stars as being “artists,” such a description of Jackson wasn’t given to be polite but rather because it was befitting.He had such an appreciation for art.As previously mentioned,Jackson’s inspiration for Thriller was Tchaikovsky,who had written suites like “The Nutcracker” filled with great music.He had instructed the musicians who had worked with him on Thriller to “think of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel” and to do what they felt was necessary to provide the right “colors” for his songs.Jackson’s art was transcendent of the audio medium.The videos for songs from Thriller were iconic as the songs were themselves.

Michael Jackson made pop music that was palatable.Jackson’s brand of pop was so much different.It was pop that sounded like pop but yet didn’t.Though,like all popular music,Jackson’s material had the largest possible listening audience in its crosshairs,it frequently didn’t come off as being kitschy and that was especially the case with the cuts off Thriller.Jackson’s music reached into the handy-dandy grab bag of tried-and-true musical devices without conveying the impression that it was trying too hard to be a hit pop song.It didn’t need to encourage people through chorus hooks to get on the dance floor or shake what their mothers bestowed upon them.People just got on the dance floor.Most importantly,Jackson’s pop was staunchly avoidant of placing a best-before date on itself.Though Thriller may be very Eighties in its sound and its premeditation to be humungous (because everything had to be big in the “decade of decadence”),it contained the necessary preservatives to keep itself fresh over a lengthy span of time and there’s an awfully high probability that it will never grow stale or become a relic of the period in which it came out.A sizeable quantity of pop music simply isn’t in Jackson’s league.As such,it doesn’t stand out from its ilk but rather sounds like simulacra of it.It tends to be corny and irritating instead of stylish and agreeable.It makes itself easily replaceable by future music that will inevitably use the same recipe from the musical cookbook to whip up something for the Hot 100.

Perhaps the only way that someone can take the King Of Pop distinction away from Michael Jackson is if Jackson’s soul is reincarnated in someone else’s body.Otherwise,Jackson continues to reign and it’s due in large part to Thriller.Happy 35th!

Hollywood star Jai Courtney on why he couldn’t resist playing Macbeth at MTC

Shakespeare’s troubled villain is ‘the role of a lifetime’.


Sonia Harford

Jun 2, 2017


“It’s great watching Jai do the fight scenes. You believe he is the best warrior in the army, which is what Macbeth is meant to be,” says actor Geraldine Hakewill.

Cast as Lady Macbeth to Jai Courtney’s foul villain, she can appreciate the stage presence of an action hero – whichever century he finds himself in. 


“I haven’t seen many Macbeths where that’s the case, where you believe he could devastate the opposing army,” she says. “It’s in his body, how he can handle himself on stage. He knows his way around a gun,” she concludes, to laughter from Courtney.

He takes the compliment with a good grace, and there’s no doubting his presence on and off stage. A star of several Hollywood blockbusters, Courtney has a powerful build and a mighty voice. Shakespeare’s lines will no doubt boom right to the back row when the Melbourne Theatre Company production opens this month.


In a break from rehearsals, the two share a sofa to explain their contemporary take on Shakespeare’s fierce Scottish play of witches, ghosts and human villainy; Hakewill a dark, lean and focused figure to Courtney’s reflective film star.

At 31, Courtney can count himself a successful member of the Australian pack in Los Angeles. Raised in Sydney, he attended the WAAPA drama school in Perth and soon landed television and film roles in the United States. 


Following his malevolent turn as a very, very bad guy opposite Tom Cruise and  Werner Herzog in Jack Reacher, he appeared in A Good Day to Die Hard, Divergent and its sequel Insurgent and as the faintly perplexing Captain Boomerang in the 2016 DC Comics outing Suicide Squad.

He’s barely revisited the stage since his WAAPA days. So why now, and why Macbeth?


“I didn’t really see an option for myself once I was offered this,” he says with feeling. “It’s the role of a lifetime, and it came along at a time when I was exploring where my interest in film really stood, and the jobs I was chasing versus the jobs I took.”

Shakespeare, of course, requires a bit more than knowing your way around a gun. Courtney and Hakewill both saw Kate Mulvany’s recent electrifying performance as Richard III with Bell Shakespeare. Her Richard, embittered by mockery and physical weakness, was a schemer, a villain with more wit than weaponry.

Courtney described her as “an absolute force. It was one of the most courageous performances I’d seen on stage.”

Yet Macbeth is a very different kind of villain, in his view.

“He’s a man who’s embarked on a tyrannical journey, and he’s always at odds with the things he has to do. It’s an interesting arc to chart as he wrestles with it right up until the end.

"At one point, he does give himself over to it and submits to chaos. It’s the horror of the acts he chooses to commit that sends him mad. Unlike Richard III, which is all about righting the wrongs endured by him, Macbeth is built on ambition. He bites off more than he can chew in that sense. It’s interesting and hard to play the arm wrestle within one’s self.”

What Hakewill saw in Mulvany’s performance was “her great feel for a story”.

“In Macbeth, the characters go to places that aren’t justifiable from an audience’s point of view but you have to take them with you, because it’s your story.

"Lady Macbeth is often seen as a villain because she doesn’t have someone whispering in her ear, so that’s tricky to find the humanity and the empathy but I am searching for that, because I think there are many reasons she acts the way she does.

"Even though we’re setting this in quite a contemporary context, I’m thinking about when it was written. Even today, here and in other parts of the world, there are constraints that you put yourself under, that society puts women under, that prevent them achieving their ambitions.”

The role marks a welcome departure for her, she says. “It’s a woman playing  a villain! I’m usually playing someone sweet and lovely. This role’s frightening and that’s why I wanted to do it.”

Hakewill has mostly based her career in Sydney, but she appeared in Baal at the Malthouse some years ago and in Joanna Murray-Smith's Fury for the Sydney Theatre Company.

“I probably seem younger than I am so I ended up playing a lot of teenage girls for a while – usually the broken ingenue who gets screwed over by men, because that’s what history has often given us in plays.”

An action role finally came her way in the television series Wanted which this year earned her a Logie nomination for outstanding new talent.

“That was a lovely surprise.”

It’s also well worth hunting down a short film called Young Labor. In this concentrated gem of political satire, Hakewill plays a hilariously narcissistic Labor organiser, browbeating volunteers from party room to fundraising cake stall.

Perfect training for Lady Macbeth, perhaps? “Yes, it looks at though it’s in me somewhere,” she says, laughing. “I got cast for a reason!”

Both actors believe director Simon Phillips has the right touch for the heightened theatricality of Macbeth. Says Hakewill: “Simon’s shows are always big shows.”

Big enough, presumably, for the movie star male lead who has left his home in Los Angeles for a few months in downtown Melbourne.

Courtney admits theatre is as big a challenge as any he’s faced. “I just wanted to get on stage all through my teens.

"As you grow and learn more and push yourself, your ambitions grow, of course … I’ve had funny luck working in film on pre-existing franchises and am often asked about the responsibility to serve those – but the movies can change so much at any part of the process. So in a weird way the pressure is so much greater under these circumstances on stage – because it’s on you to rise to it every night." 

Courtney says after Macbeth he’s  "sticking around to do some film work”. He enjoys going back and forth between Australia and the US. He’ll soon be seen in World War II drama The Exception with Christopher Plummer.

In the past, he has worked on Australian films with his friend Joel Edgerton and with Russell Crowe on The Water Diviner. Next up locally is a planned remake of Storm Boy with Courtney playing Hideaway Tom, the boy’s father. 

“I’m really excited to be on board with this retelling of such an iconic Australian story and it’s so wonderful to have the privilege of working with Geoffrey Rush. I was a fan of the book growing up so it’s an honour to be a part of the film

Epic Movie (Re)Watch Analysis - The Bond Actors

Note: designating a film as, “best,” and, “worst,” is born from averaging various critical ratings from sites like Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and IMDb.

Originally posted by renegadism

Instead of, “ranking,” the Bond actors I think I’m just going to analyze them: talk about their strengths and weaknesses as a whole. Things like that. Because ranking Bonds is purely a matter of opinion and while I may talk about my opinion in this piece I will mainly talk about the 007′s.

Sean Connery (1963-1967, 1971)

Originally posted by esraa1993

Films: Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever

  • Best film: Goldfinger
  • Worst film: Diamonds Are Forever

Designation: The Tough Guy

Connery would define the Bond franchise and every Bond actor to follow, in both a good and bad way. His first four films are classics, with Goldfinger being the Bong film all others aspire to be. While You Only Live Twice hasn’t aged very well (it could quite possibly be the most racist and misogynistic film the series) it’s still not a bad film. Diamonds Are Forever was the beginning of over-the-top Bond with kinda campy elements, a category Connery didn’t fit well in (he also returned to the role because of a paycheck and it shows in his performance).

What makes Connery interesting to watch is that he was able to define who Bond was and so had a sort of free reign with the character. He was the most human of the 007′s until Daniel Craig came along, showing fear and anger often in his films. In those first four films you can tell he seems to be really enjoying the part, and therefore we enjoy watching him in them.

The reason Connery is designated as, “The Tough Guy,” of 007s is because he was very much a man’s man of the era. He hits women to interrogate them, but he’s also very rough with all the other villains and henchmen of the series too. Bond creator Ian Fleming was originally hesitant to see blue-collar Connery as the upper class 007 but was so impressed by his performance he changed Bond’s family tree to reflect Scottish heritage and that’s all because of Connery. 

George Lazenby (1969)

Originally posted by thefilmfatale

Films: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  • Best film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  • Worst film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Designation: The Romantic

Designation one film as best or worst when it comes to George Lazenby is rather redundant because - unfortunately - he only appeared in one Bond film.

Lazenby gets a bad wrap, as most of the press had decided he would suck as James Bond before even seeing the film (mostly because he wasn’t Sean Connery). But here’s the thing: Lazenby isn’t a bad Bond and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is actually a VERY good movie. Bond has more personal stakes in it than he has in any other film, he is emotionally vulnerable and even cries in the film. He is more tender with women then Sean Connery was, and that is why he gets the designation of, “The Romantic,” Bond.

Roger Moore (1973-1985)

Originally posted by britishsecretservice

Films: Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill

  • Best film: The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Worst film: A View to a Kill

Designation: Gentleman Spy

When it comes to the quality of Roger Moore’s work on the 007s films (and the quality of the films themselves) it’s a bit of a roller coaster. You start off kinda high with Live and Let Die and then you drop down with The Man with the Golden Gun before skyrocketing with The Spy Who Loved Me. And while there’s a bump in the ride with Moonraker you stay on that high with For Your Eyes Only only to come down with Octopussy and A View to a Kill. Unfortunately, Moore’s tenure as Bond did drop because he stuck with the role for too long. He got too comfortable with it, and Bond became too comfortable, whereas Bond should always have a bit of edge to him.

Moore’s Bond was at his best when he wasn’t Sean Connery’s James Bond. This is one of the big reasons The Man with the Golden Gun suffered, as it felt like a better script for Sean Connery than Roger Moore. Moore’s Bond doesn’t hit women, he romances them and he is (to the best of his ability) a gentleman. Whenever anyone looks for, “generic James Bond,” they look to Roger Moore, and I don’t mean that as an insult but as an observation. He played the role longer then anyone else, in more films than anyone else, and he did play it less emotionally vulnerable than Lazenby and even with less fear/anger we sometimes saw Connery have.

At the end of the day all of Moore’s films are worth watching for one reason or another with the exception of Octopussy (you can even skip A View to a Kill but Christopher Walken is pretty good in it). He just overstayed his welcome a little.

Timothy Dalton (1987-1989)

Originally posted by taladarkiejj

Films: The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill

  • Best film: Licence to Kill
  • Worst film: The Living Daylights

Designation: The Rogue

Calling one Timothy Dalton film better than the other is actually kind of a stupid thing to do because they’re both pretty consistent in quality and they’re both very good. Dalton is a very refreshing change of pace from Roger Moore’s more relaxed James Bond as he goes back to a lot of what Sean Connery did well in his films: he shows fear, he gets angry (he’s probably the angriest of the Bonds), you can tell he’s a little vulnerable (although not as much as Lazenby) and all in all he’s VERY interesting to watch. I greatly enjoyed Dalton’s films, and the reason he is designated as, “The Rogue,” is because we see in his films - more than other Bond films - his personal sense of honor and justice actually outweigh his devotion to queen and country. This is best on display in Licence to Kill (I don’t know why they spell Licence that way) which is probably my favorite of his two 007 films.

Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002)

Originally posted by greatspacedustbin

Films: GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day

  • Best film: GoldenEye
  • Worst film: Die Another Day

Designation: The Near-Total Package

It was sorta difficult for me to designate Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond, for although he’s pretty good he doesn’t really bring anything new to the role. He’s like the middle ground between Sean Connery and Roger Moore: he’s smooth, he’s been doing this a while, he’s emotionally steady, BUT he’s still got a bit of those rough edges. It does make him interesting to watch, he’s not a bad Bond by any means, in fact he’s kind of a perfect representation of all the Bonds before him. He’s got Connery’s rough edges, Lazenby’s romanticism, Moore’s gentlemen nature, and even a bit of Dalton’s rogue tendencies.

When it comes to his films most people tend to agree that GoldenEye is the best of the bunch and Die Another Day should really just be avoided (it’s very cartoony but without the fun of a cartoon, and there is a lot of awful CGI). While people are also pretty harsh towards his other two films I actually greatly enjoyed The World is Not Enough despite Denise Richards less-than-desirable performance as the Bond girl. All in all, Brosnan was the perfect Bond to end a 40 year continuity on before rebooting the series with Daniel Craig.

Daniel Craig (2006-Present)

Originally posted by bridgetfrombudapest

Films: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre

  • Best film: Casino Royale
  • Worst film: Quantum of Solace

Designation: The Raw Bond

I speak at great length in all of my (re)watches of the Daniel Craig Bond films as to why he’s the raw 007, but here’s the gist of it: a lot changed in terms of filmmaking between 2002 and 2006. Jason Bourne was now a lucrative franchise with the third film coming out a year after Casino Royale, and films such as Batman Begins and even 2002′s Spider-Man showed that audiences were interested in origin stories. Not only that, but Batman Begins proved that something which had gotten ridiculously campy and over the top could return to it’s darker roots very well. This film largely inspired producer Barbra Broccoli to reboot the Bond franchise with Casino Royale with a new continuity, and Craig is playing a Bond who has never been on a big ass mission before.

Craig is not the same Bond who has encountered Dr. No or Goldfinger before, everything he’s doing he’s doing for the first time and he’s really learning on the job. Casino Royale is the best example of this, as Bond is exceptionally raw and undisciplined in that film with a massive ego. As the films progress he grows into more a seasoned veteran (to the point of fault in Spectre) but he’s got just a little bit of edgy Jason Bourne type thrown into him to make him relevant. He’s still 007: he’s still slick and cool, but Craig is by far the most human James Bond ever showing fear, love, anger, sadness, all of it. And it makes for excellent character writing. Craig is, by far, my favorite 007.

Originally posted by artoftheautomobile


A little break in my standard Epic Movie (Re)Watch post but I thought it’d be fun to try something new. I don’t think I’ll do a, “rank the Bond films,” or, “rank the Bond girls,” or anything like that. I may write one more Bond analytical post but it might also be outside of my Epic Movie (Re)Watch and deal with, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” also. Anyway, if you guys enjoyed this format let me know!

of bridges, horse bits & spaceships

I’ve been watching and analyzing Gilmore Girls for so many years it’s hard to even imagine, but one thing that always struck me is that this show has more in common with SciFi shows I love like Farscape or BSG than it does normal family dramas. Maybe that sounds silly, but the world ASP created has overarching themes that play out over & over again, characters that fit into specific archetypes & roles that serve specific purposes rather than just fumbling through life. ASP uses parallels, circular stories and other devices to tell these stories over and over again, to write herself into messes and then back out again. But while she writes about the same themes over and over again, she never quite tells the same story twice.


What am I trying to say? Well, that the revival story of Rory & Logan fits very nicely into the overarching themes that ASP has been mining since she introduced Logan in 2004. Rory wasn’t ruined, honestly, her hairbrained ideas about things remaining hers long after she should be considering other people’s feelings is a character trait that dates back to s3 & Shane. Once she decides something is hers it always is. Once she realized she still loved Logan she doesn’t care about anyone else’s feelings. It might not be the greatest character trait and might make you scratch your head wondering why she doesn’t just go for it again with Logan when she clearly still loves him…well that ties to something I’ll talk about in a few.


Rory’s story has always been one about leaving Stars Hollow, being a bridge between Lorelai-Richard & Emily, both literally and figuratively. She’s not supposed to be one or the other, but all three, not a carbon copy of Lorelai ever. Which is why the thing I found most disturbing during the revival is not her being pregnant or them cheating on two characters I have zero investment in, but her landing back in the Hollow professionally. It’s where she started, not where she belongs or where she’s supposed to end up. It’s her launching pad.


But I’ve also long said that the way Lorelai brought up Rory made her codependent. Rory needs a partner in life. Someone with a stronger personality - Lorelai/Logan - to push her to be the person she can be. To be her sounding board and cheerleader. Otherwise she tends to flounder. Or if that person is floundering, she does too. Her greatest moments come when linked with a partner - FNAFF which directly leads to her getting the editorship of YDN or the activities of YJIJJ which are related to Logan. Then her getting into Chiton - Lorelai pushes this and it leads to Yale and the opportunities Yale represents. Rory is at her most lost and unhappy when she doesn’t have a partner, look at S4.


That’s not to say Rory’s not a strong person, she is. But she’s got a quieter strength than Lorelai or even Logan, who both are openly stubborn and revel in defying expectations. Rory is more of a pleaser. Also, she learned her lesson the hard way about defying Lorelai’s wishes in S6 - Lorelai cutting her out of her life when Rory was at her lowest & not getting back in her good graces till Rory was back on the Lorelai approved Yale track. My personal feelings have always been that Rory never really fully recovers from that shunning and decisions she makes subsequently and that she’s still making are influenced by what happened then. To anyone that thinks I’m being too hard on Lorelai - she was the parent, the adult and she was not the one that was having the massive crisis of confidence. That was Rory.


Also, while Jess might’ve given her the idea for the book, it’s Logan’s support to defy Lorelai’s not wanting her to write it that ultimately pushes her to begin writing - at Richard & Emily’s home. Lorelai’s prison once again becoming Rory’s refuge. It also ties into the ‘lucky dress’ which comes up again & again. It’s what she was wearing when she meets Logan in Hamburg - for what’s implied is the first time in probably years. Logan is tied to her being ‘lucky.’ He gives her confidence to do things she would otherwise not believe she could do - hasn’t he always?


Logan’s story has always been a good look into the life Lorelai would’ve had had she not left Hartford. Expectation, obligation, and a horrible home life married to someone you don’t love. That’s still his life when we meet him again. If you don’t believe me, rewatch their first phone call in Summer & final convo in Fall. They are him either begging Rory to change things or a redo of their couch convo in Partings - him asking her to not let him go into his predestined life and her not stopping him. In Partings I loved it. Here, I think she’s so self doubtful - perhaps thinking she has nothing to truly offer him - that she can’t make a leap with him again. We’re dealing with a late S5, early s6 self doubting Rory in the revival, IMO.


Finn, Colin & Robert aren’t just irresponsible friends of Logan’s he needs to grow up and leave behind - they’re a physical manifestation of his rebellion to his predestined life. They show the audience that while he might be working for Mitchum & might be planning on marrying the new Fallon - his Huntzberger approved wife - Mitchum’s bit still does not quite fit. Mitchum’s long glance at Rory in his one scene tells me he knows this & he knows as long as Rory’s part of Logan’s life, Mitchum’s not won this game yet. He knows Rory’s a threat - that Logan’s only true out is Rory, who Logan practically begs to push the escape hatch button for him. [This is one area that ASP does need to further explain what she took from S7 & what she didn’t. Because why IS Logan back with HPG to being with? Did he ever even leave?]


Where does Lorelai fit in all this? Well, they’re all named Lorelai for a reason. She may be the Reigning Lorelai, but here she plays the role of Lorelai I disapproving of Richard’s choice of Emily, championing the fiancée he chose to leave behind for the woman he loved and the life he chose. Rory turned Logan down not just because she didn’t want to get married so young. To have a wide open future. She also turned Logan down because she didn’t want to disappoint Lorelai - go back to the schism. Lorelai didn’t have to expressly voice her disapproval of Logan - she’d been doing it for three years already and Rory had heard her many sermons on similar subjects since infancy. Harvard, not Yale, Rory doesn’t make the final decision to go to Yale though it’s obvious that’s what she wants & the blue/grey/white theme has been around since the pilot, till Lorelai lets her know it’s okay, she’s okay with it. At some point Lorelai has to stop telling Rory she’s going to find someone who she’ll be happy with and realize - Rory already has.


Does a baby solve anything? No, not really. What it does is make everyone take another look at what they’ve done & the choices they’ve made. Why is the girl that had a CHOICE poster on her wall in college keeping this baby? Is a 34 year old man going to make the same choices as a 16 year old boy? Does an adult Logan who keeps trying to choose Rory over and over again really have the lack of commitment that a 16 year old Christopher had? What I do know is that ASP has talked about there being more story to tell since she started talking about the revival. Rory’s journey to happiness is that final piece of the puzzle and I have no doubt that it won’t be the same as Lorelai’s. Lorelai’s experience with bringing up Rory as a single mom is where we start, not necessarily where we end.


What this portion of the revival did was fit into themes that tie back to the pilot and weave throughout the show - as Rory and logan’s story always has. It’s about more than two people that have loved one another for 12 years having an affair. It’s even about more than the fact that they clearly adore one another and are one another’s best friends and touchstones - they know EVERYTHING going on in the others lives and he’s the one she can’t quit subconsciously calling when things are starting to get out of sorts with Lorelai. Those are the things that the Sophie since 2004 in me loved, but the fan of the show that’s been analyzing it for 16 years also sees the themes revisited, the through lines of their story that’s been part of them since WITS and especially YJIJJ. This all fits within those stories that have been told before or calls back to them, waiting for their twist and turn to make the outcome uniquely theirs.


To me Gilmore Girls has ultimately been not about Rory being Lorelai or not being Lorelai or Emily approving of or understanding Lorelai’s choices or not. It’s about these people ultimately accepting that they’re not just carbon copies of one another - Trix again - and being okay with the choices they each make for their own happiness. Emily has done that with Lorelai, it’s now Lorelai’s turn to do that for Rory. That’s the true completion of the circle and a story I’m eager to see.

anonymous asked:

How is Reed's relationship with his kid brother-in-law ? Mentor-like ? Fatherly ? Formal ? Brotherly ? And if you could include a few references please.... if it's not too much trouble ?🙈🙈Thanks !

Well, I think it’s important to remember that Johnny’s father was MIA – Sue told Johnny their father was dead, which Johnny believed until his father returned when Johnny was 16/17 – for much of Johnny’s childhood because he was in jail for murder. Before he was jailed, Franklin Storm was on a path of self-destruction – alcoholism, gambling, severe depression – following the tragic, premature death of his wife (Johnny and Sue’s mother) in a car accident. And we know, thanks to Straczynski’s run, that the Storm parents’ marriage wasn’t the happiest. Whether or not Johnny actually remembered his father and mother varies depending on which writer you’re reading. And Franklin neglected Johnny and Sue almost entirely after his wife’s death.

So Johnny, as far as we know, did not have any positive male role models in his life until he met Reed and Ben when he was, depending on the origin story we’re going with, a baby, seven, or eleven years old. Reed was incredibly smart and always talking about traveling through the stars, and Ben was the star, immensely popular linebacker of the ESU football team. Both would have seemed very cool to a little boy who had never had any guy to look up to or pay attention to him. I think he must have hero-worshipped both of them, and I don’t think that, for him, that’s ever really gone away where Reed’s concerned. Personally, I think Reed’s very much his surrogate father figure, to whom Johnny always turns for approval and guidance. Not that Sue’s influence isn’t incredibly important in Johnny’s life, because she is the single most important person in the world to Johnny and the one who most influenced his personality, but Reed comes in second for sure.

There’s a really adorable What If? that shows what it was like when Reed was living at Aunt Marygay’s boardinghouse, and Johnny says Reed is “the smartest man in the world.” He’s right, but a kid his age has no way of actually knowing that. He clearly hero-worships Reed.

I genuinely don’t think he’s ever 100% gotten over his uncritical hero-worship and adoration of Reed.

We also see Byrne’s version of their early relationship in Corman’s 1994 film, and Reed clearly has a lot of affection for tiny Johnny, as we see when he excitedly picks him up:

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Michael After Midnight: The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy

Ah, October, a month where the internet becomes obsessed with ghosts and goblins in preparation for Halloween. And really, can I fault the people for that? The dark, macabre, and spooky make for great entertainment! Plenty of great scary movies out there for the adults to enjoy to get into the spirit, but what about kids? Well, there’s Goosebumps and all those other shows like it, but what about a dark, macabre cartoon filled with spooky shit?

Enter The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, one of the best Cartoon Network cartoons ever made. Released in August of 2001, it came just in time for that year’s Halloween, and lasted six years, with seven seasons under its belt. During that time, the show endeared itself to audiences with its combination of dark comedy, grossout humor, and just plain weird situations…though weirdness is par for the course when you’re pals with the Grim Reaper, I suppose.

So what is the plot of this cartoon? Well, one day a hamster owned by a stupid boy named Billy was about to die, and the Grim Reaper came to take him. Billy’s cunning, evil best friend Mandy decided to make a bet with the Grim Reaper; they have a game of limbo, and if he wins he gets the hamster… but if THEY win, he has too be their best friend forever. Of course, he loses, and then he becomes the put-upon pal of these two kids as they boss him around and force him to entertain them. Much hilarity (and chaos) ensues.

This show’s greatest asset was its variety. With Grim onboard, any sort of plot could be possible, from sci-fi stories where the gang fought aliens or mutant chickens to more horrifying stores where they fought demons, monsters, and other denizens of the underworld. And sometimes they would do something really weird, like the episode-long dream sequence in which Billy imagines he’s in the Wild West confronting the cowboy Tooth Fairy. This helps most of the episodes feel fresh, because going in you don’t know if you’re gonna get a story about a killer tricycle or an episode-long reference to Suspiria. Speaking of which, the show is pretty clever in its references, slipping in TONS of content for adult fans, from numerous dirty jokes that will fly over kid’s heads to references to movies no kid would see, such as the aforementioned Suspiria or Hellraiser. As there’s not much continuity here, this show is super easy to jump into at any episode and just watch and have a good experience, which is another plus; sometimes it’s nice to have a simple show driven only by its desire to tell jokes rather than tell an overarching story. And thankfully, the jokes here are mostly good, and have as much variety as the episodes themselves. One memorable episode is just an episode-long series of fart jokes, while another episode gets its laughs from giant mutant chickens and cannibalism. It’s THAT kind of show.

Now, none of these situations would be quite as good if the protagonists weren’t entertaining, so how are they? Let’s start with the guy whose name comes first in the title (technically speaking): Grim. Grim, the personification of Death with an inexplicable Jamaican accent, is bizarrely the straight man in this show… well, usually. When he has to deal with Billy, he plays the role with ease, but with Mandy, Grim can sometimes get a bit silly, though rarely to Billy’s level. As he is typically what allows the strange and supernatural hijinks of the show to occur, be it on purpose or inadvertently, he’s easily the coolest main character, and due to his put-upon nature and how sympathetic he ends up being due to the shit Billy and Mandy put him through, he’s also the most likable.

Billy is up next, and he is the stereotypical idiot comic relief character cranked up to 11. He’s stupid to the point it is stated by his principal in one episode that a shovel and two candy bracelets actually scored higher on an IQ test than he did (they got a positive 17; he got -5). Think Ed from fellow Cartoon Network cartoon Ed, Edd n Eddy, only with a bigger nose and voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz of Invader Zim and Psychonauts fame. Unlike Ed, though, the dangerous and supernatural experiences they faced combined with an occasional lack of empathy and his tendency to be a jerk can make Billy a bit of a divisive character; I tend to enjoy him quite a bit, but there are a few episodes where even he tried my patience. Still, overall he’s an enjoyable dope.

Then we have… Mandy. I’m just gonna say it: by the time the show came to an end, Mandy was easily the worst main character, maybe even the worst character on the show period. She’s typically portrayed as the Ultimate Evil, this epic child chess master who always comes out on top and never faces any sort of consequence for what she does. It’s a rare episode that sees her punished for her actions. However, in episodes where she’s not trying to pull off some evil scheme and is just reacting to the madness around her, she’s a solid character. The fact she’s voiced by Grey DeLisle does help things a bit.

As I said, there is very little continuity between episodes, but there is some, mostly in the form of reoccurring characters. In a show like this, the ensemble cast as well as one-shot characters really need to be on point, and boy oh boy are they ever in this show! This show may have one of the best and most enjoyable ensemble casts in a cartoon ever. The big standouts are Hoss Delgado, the buff monster hunter who is basically a combination of Ash Williams and Snake Plissken, with all that badassery that implies; Eris, the sexy and tricky goddess of chaos; Jeff, a gigantic spider (voiced by Maxwell Atoms, the show’s creator) who is Billy’s ‘son’ and just wants his spider-hating father’s love; General Skarr, a character from Evil Con Carne who is a cunning evil man who wants to usurp power and rule the world… or he used to be, now he just wants to tend his garden in peace; and, last but definitely not least, motherfuckin’ Dracula, voiced by Phil LaMarr and based visually on Blackula, who is basically a nonstop fountain of hilarity. Each of these characters is fantastic, funny, and able to fit into a variety of weird situations the show pops out. And this brilliance and hilarity extends to one-shot characters as well, such as the much-loved singing evil meteor and Jack O’Lantern, characters who had one appearance each but easily endeared themselves with fans. If there’s a weak link in any of the ensemble cast, it would probably be Fred Fredburger; while he’s not devoid of funny moments, his schtick was really overplayed and he ended up becoming an unofficial mascot for the series in the ads, which led to overexposure. It leads people to think he had a bigger part in the show than he did, when he had a few episodes and then appeared in a few of the specials.

Interestingly, Billy & Mandy is probably one of the few shows that really benefited from getting wackier as the show went on. The first season, when the show was Grim & Evil, is, for lack of a better word, a bit grim. The episodes still have comedy, but a lot of them just aren’t as funny as later episodes, and not many of the series mainstays pop up here, aside from Nergal, Eris, and Hoss. That’s not to say there’s nothing memorable here – “Little Rock of Horrors” is in the first season, after all – but the first season just doesn’t stack up quite as well to later ones. Season 2 introduces Jeff and Nigel Planter and has the legendary Halloween special, while season 3 has classics like “Here Thar Be Dwarves” and brings in Grim’s school bully Boogie. They only get better from here, save for season 7, which is easily the least memorable season of them all (though it does have its exceptions, particularly “Wrath of the Spider Queen"). 

 Now, normally this is where I would wrap up, but first, I want to do something a little different. I’m going to list the 25 episodes I think are essential viewing for the best Billy & Mandy experience. I’m not going to review each episode or even detail them, because it would basically be me explaining jokes and how they’re funny. These are just the episodes I think anyone getting in should see. So without further ado…

25. Attack of the Clowns

24. One Crazy Summoner

23. The Loser from the Earth’s Core

22. Toadblatt’s School of Sorcery

21. Wrath of the Spider Queen

20. Home of the Ancients

19. Nursery Crimes

18. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

17. Giant Billy and Mandy All-Out Attack

16. Nigel Planter and the Chamber Pot of Secrets

15. Modern Primitives

14. Prank Call of Cthulhu

13. Duck!

12. The Secret Snake Club

11. Jeffy’s Web

10. Fear and Loathing in Endsville

9. Here Thar Be Dwarves

8. Goodbling and the Hip-hop-opotamus

7. Billy and Mandy Moon the Moon

6. My Fair Mandy

5. Keeper of the Reaper

4. Little Rock of Horrors

3. Wishbones

2. Billy and Mandy’s Jacked-Up Halloween

1. Billy and Mandy Save Christmas

Now this is by no means a definitive list (though I certainly believe the Halloween and Christmas episode are the two best episodes of the show), but I do certainly think that these are some of the funniest, most memorable, and most enjoyable episodes the series produced.

This show is unarguably a classic. Funny, dark, witty, and filled with jokes for people of any ages to enjoy, this is the sort of cartoon that helped Cartoon Network be truly great in the early to mid-2000s, prior to their descent into madness with live action shows. It actually spawned a pretty solid TV movie, an incredibly bizarre crossover with Codename: Kids Next Door, and a failed spinoff movie called Underfist; I’d go into more detail, but honestly, that stuff is worthy of their own reviews, so I’ll save it.

Needless to say though, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is one of the best cartoons of the 2000s, a real gem and definitely worth watching, especially its holiday specials which are among the best holiday specials, if not THE best (that Christmas episode is a strong contender). I kinda wish this show would get a revival of some kind, because even with the glut of comedy shows we have these days, as long as Maxwell Atoms is at the helm, I can’t see this show failing to stand out in the crowd… no show with such ballsy dark comedy and radar-dodging innuendos could ever be unwelcome.

Top 10 Milo Murphy's Law Episodes from Season 1

It’s his world and we’re all living in it! Today, thanks to you, fans like me, we’re taking a look at the Top 10 episodes from the season 1 of Milo Murphy’s Law.

This show made by the same creative minds behind Phineas and Ferb has done enough to become more than a follow up of it, bringing great songs and storytelling, charismatic and enjoyable characters, and of course, the optimistic main character voiced by the one and only Weird Al Yankovic.

Before we begin, I gotta thank you guys and gals for voting on the Twitter polls and helping me make this list. It took me longer than I expected, I admit, but I’m glad in the end the results were fair.

Only the 11-minute segments were on the vote, because the half-hour or one-hour ones deserve a vote of their own, and also because we need to see the rest of the Phineas and Ferb crossover to consider Fungus Among Us. Anyway, pick your backpacks and sweaters, and let’s get to it!

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