In 1967, during his period of convalescence, Bob Dylan and the band that would eventually become The Band recorded over 100 tracks in an upstate New York house now known as The Big Pink. Dylan and co. would whittle those tracks down to his seminal 1975 double-LP The Basement Tapes, an album essentially written and recorded in a pink-hued void, cut off from modern pop-music. You can now rent that void for the low price of $650 a night, for a minimum of two nights. The house currently has a perfect five-star rating, based on five reviews. Sadly, the posting says "the basement is not included in the rental," but a futon is, so if you ever wanted to write an album called The Futon Tapes, now’s your chance.
The Richard Pryor biopic has been gestating for a long time. 48 Hours director Walter Hill was set to co-write and direct the movie back in 2005, when Pryor was still alive. Mike Epps gave a killer audition and won Pryor's approval. Pryor died shortly thereafter and the movie went stagnant. Then Epps was supposed to play Pryor in a Nina Simone biopic that's had so many problems it might as well be cursed. Now the Pryor film has finally been green-lit, Deadline reports. Lee Daniels is at the helm, filming a script by Bill Condon and Empire collaborator Danny Strong. The cast is stellar: Oprah Winfrey will play Pryor’s grandmother, Eddie Murphy Pryor’s father, and Kate Hudson Pryor’s widow. Pryor, the man who once said, “I’m not a movie star, I’m a booty star,” will still be portrayed by Epps, ten years after he initially won the role. Marlon Wayans briefly had the role when Condon was slated to direct and Adam Sandler was slated to produce, but that didn't work out. (Imagine a Richard Pryor movie produced by Adam Sandler. That'd be like a Beatles biopic produced by Nickelback.)
Last month, actor and sometimes political pundit James Woods filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Twitter user "Abe List" for tweeting that Woods used cocaine. Woods says he wants to send a message to "anyone else using social media to propagate lies." Woods's attorneys then followed up with a subpoena to Twitter demanding that they reveal the secret identity of "Abe List" as well as another Twitter user with the handle "T.G. Emerson," who went a step further, calling Woods a "notorious coke fiend and registered sex offender." Now Twitter's attorney, Ryan Mrazik, has written a letter in which he explains to Woods what "hyperbole" is:
A few months ago, Louis C.K. went to Russia and he hated it. It's hard to blame him, considering the Russian government's lousy stances on many social and equality issues, and now Russia has taken another step backwards: Moscow Premiere, a charitable film festival and the only festival in Russia to champion films by members of the LGBT community, has been canceled. Citing economic hardship, Moscow's culture committee pulled funding as the festival was about to begin its 13th year. It will be replaced by a "positive, youth-orientated" festival called the The Youth Festival of Life Affirming Film, which enlightens Russia's youth by prohibiting people under 18 years of age from watching movies that depict homosexuality in any way. Moscow Premiere head, film critic Vyacheslav Shmyrov, told Russian newspaper Noviye Izvestia, “We cannot affiliate to the new festival — not least in terms of our self-esteem.” He said Moscow Premiere, which did not charge admission, existed mainly as a “social mission” for those who can't afford to go to the movies. The lineup for the Youth Festival hasn't been announced yet, but expect a marathon of unintentionally homoerotic films with plots featuring teenagers' love and admiration for President Putin.
Drake closed out Lil Wayne's Lil WeezyAna Festival last night, which, as the portmanteau in the name implies, took place in New Orleans. It was a charity concert to benefit kids affected by Hurricane Katrina, and the whole concert was streamed via Tidal. But when Drake took the stage, rotten Apple intervened and the video went dead, following the company's threat of a $20 million lawsuit if Drake's two-song performance streamed on Tidal's rival music service. As Page Six reports, lawyers were called in because Drake has an exclusive deal with Apple Music said to be worth up to $19 million. Drake ultimately prevailed, however, and you can now stream his performance below, or watch the whole concert via Mr. World Premiere.
Tom Roston's upcoming book I Lost It at the Video Store (a play on Pauline Kael's classic I Lost It at the Movies), a gaggle of filmmakers share stories of their lives as video store clerks. It should come as no surprise that the two most quotable participants are over-caffeinated movie buff Quentin Tarantino and comic connoisseur Kevin Smith. Below are a few tidbits from the upcoming book, via Entertainment Weekly. (Then take our Tarantino Superfan Quiz and see how well you know the filmmaker.)
There’s a danger to playing up the cruddy No Escape’s exploitative qualities; it might inspire people to actually see it, merely to bask in the provocation. But no, it’s just plain offensive — and not all that well made, either. No Escape takes the casual xenophobia of something like Taken, crossbreeds it with something altogether more noxious, then asks us to kick back and enjoy the ride. We don’t. We can’t. And the ride isn’t that great to begin with.
Bruce Willis recently departed Woody Allen's new film, currently in production, purportedly because of his commitment to his role in the Broadway adaptation of Stephen King's Misery. (This remains a pretty unconvincing explanation.) Regardless, Variety reports that Allen has found a replacement for Willis in the form of Steve Carrel, who is nothing at all like Willis, who is nothing at all like Woody Allen. Though details regarding Allen's untitled film are scarce, we can now safely assume that it won't be an action movie, or Carrel will be the hairiest action star since Chuck Norris.
Pour a Glass of Chianti for This Supercut of the 3 Portrayals of Hannibal and Will’s Relationship and Because It’s FridayBy E. Alex Jung
As Hannibal closes out its run on NBC tomorrow night, it also puts the six-episode Red Dragon arc to rest. The story line comes from Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon, where FBI agent Will Graham tries to catch the serial killer by enlisting the help of another — one Dr. Hannibal Lecter. With Bryan Fuller's interpretation, there have now been three major screen adaptations of the book, including Michael Mann's Manhunter and Brett Ratner's Red Dragon. In the former, William Petersen and Brian Cox play Will and Hannibal, and in the latter, it's Edward Norton and Anthony Hopkins. Video editor Matthew Morettini found that the dialogue in each one remained remarkably faithful to Harris's book, which allowed him to seamlessly re-create the scene where Will first approaches Dr. Lecter to ask for his help. The edit is remarkable, and it allows you to see the distinct variations in each interpretation. Now, enjoy Hannibal and Will, three ways:
Face it, the Earth in its present form is surely doomed because of climate change or terrorists with nukes or unstoppable viruses or some combination of the above. Pick your poison, folks. But the flood of post-apocalyptic films doesn’t seem to be helping us change our ways. As Brad Bird’s messed-up but underestimated Tomorrowland argued, moviegoers have become positively turned on by visions of the planet’s demise. Culturally, we have learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.
In his new video for “Tell Your Friends,” Abel Tesfaye — better known as the Weeknd — buries a man alive against a desert horizon at dusk. As he finishes the job and strides through the desolate landscape in step with the song’s slurry, slow-motion pace (“Tell Your Friends” sounds, somehow, like if “Benny and the Jets” were a Drake song), the camera looks up at him from his feet, like he’s a larger-than-life antihero in a John Ford movie. At some point, another person approaches; Tesfaye draws his gun without effort and shoots them down. The video offers no narrative explanation as to why he does this — I guess we’re supposed to assume that he’s the kind of guy who’d shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die. “This ain’t the right time for you to fall in love with me,” Tesfaye will warn with a bluesy swagger a little later in this record, The Beauty Behind the Madness, but by then we’ve gotten the message: This guy is bad news, baby. It wouldn’t be any clearer if he were wearing a black hat.
Going Clear Director Alex Gibney Thinks Journalists Should Ask Tom Cruise the Tough Questions About ScientologyBy Claire Landsbaum
While Tom Cruise is pretty open when it comes to his lip-syncing skills and impressive stunts, when it comes to his involvement with the Church of Scientology his lips are sealed. During the press tour for Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation Cruise didn’t answer a single question about his involvement with the church, even though the documentary Going Clear, released just a few months earlier, made it evident Cruise was the religion's poster boy, regularly trotted out for big events. Crash director Paul Haggis, who defected from the church and appears in Going Clear, recently blastedreporters for not asking Cruise the tough questions. Vulture caught up with the film’s director, Alex Gibney at the screening of Steve Jobs: The Man The Machine, who agreed:
VH1 has canceled its scripted time-travel dramedy Hindsight, despite having renewed the show for a second season back in March. The series, about a woman (Laura Ramsey) who gets transported back to 1995 on the eve of her second wedding for a life do-over, debuted back in January to rave reviews; Vulture's own Margaret Lyons praised the show's "perfect vision" in her review. In a statement, the network explained, "We love Hindsight and couldn’t be more proud of the series. But in this overcrowded and rapidly changing climate, we need to carve out VH1’s distinct place in the scripted marketplace and deliver the biggest audiences possible for our series." Maybe VH1 doesn't love the '90s as much as we all thought.
Get ready for a week of Biebs: After making an appearance on The Tonight Show next Wednesday, September 2, Justin Bieber will begin a one-week residency on the Today show, from September 7–11, Rolling Stone reports. Bieber, a Today show veteran, is promoting his new album, and will perform live Thursday and Friday. Bieber previously competed against Jimmy Fallon in a series of events three years ago, promoting his album Believe (Fallon whipped out his album, Blow Your Pants Off). You can watch them go head-to-haircut below.
*An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Bieber's residency would be on The Tonight Show. Sadly, Bieber will only appear on The Tonight Show for one night, on Wednesday, September 2.
Patti Smith Celebrates Electric Lady’s 45th Birthday by Playing Horses, Spitting on Her Celeb-Heavy CrowdBy Jada Yuan
Patti Smith is 68, and she gives negative fucks what you think. As it should be. On Wednesday night, punk’s poet laureate tore into the mic and spat on multiple audience members, including me and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough, while playing her 1975 debut, Horses, from front to back. She recorded the classic album 40 years ago at Electric Lady Studios, the recording palace Jimi Hendrix opened exactly 45 years ago, just one month before his death. Watching Smith and three-quarters of her original band, including guitarist Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, blaze through Horses live wasn’t a one-off experience; Smith has already been touring the globe doing just that, and will be coming back to New York’s Beacon Theatre on November 10 for a similar show. (She'll also be touring with her new book, M Train, a collection of essays about her travels.) But there was something about being surrounded by Electric Lady's ghosts that seemed to energize the singer.
Great dancer Chris Messina is in negotiations to star opposite Ben Affleck in Live by Night, a Prohibition-era crime drama written and directed by the future Batting Gentleman. Messina will play Affleck’s best friend Dion Bartolo, which you could totally see. (Can’t you imagine Messina and Affleck roughhousing – Messina under Affleck’s arm, getting noogied real good?) Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel The Given Day, Live by Night’s cast also includes Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, and Zoe Saldana. All the actors have been considered for their parts for awhile now, but production was delayed while Affleck was being a movie star/superhero. Of course, Messina previously worked with Affleck on Argo, where he showed the director/actor he could pull off period-specific facial hair.
Hot off a remix from Fetty Wap, New York City club-pop duo the Knocks keep the momentum going with a video for their disco gem (and previous Song of the Week pick) "Collect My Love." The song and video are anchored by the charisma of Alex Newell, best remembered for playing Glee's first transgender character, Unique. With its setting at famed party spot China Chalet and its cameos from rising drag stars Aquaria and Daphne Sumtimez, the Austin Peters–directed video gives a rapturous glimpse into Downtown Manhattan's underground club culture.
"He did a great job capturing the energy of Alex's performance and the energy of our favorite part of New York City," DJ B-Roc says of Peters. Newell especially delivers a showstopping turn as the Chalet's dance queen, putting his sky-high vocal range center stage — while wearing a flower crown and sequins, natch. Consider this your Friday night slay-spiration.
The zombie universe continues to expand on AMC. After premiering Fear the Walking Dead to record-setting ratings, the network is planning a stand-alone episode of a zombie attack that takes place on a passenger plane, EW reports. As their prize, the lucky survivor of that episode will get to join the cast of Fear the Walking Dead on the second season. The stand-alone episode will debut online and unfold in small bits that will air on television during commercial breaks of The Walking Dead. It sounds similar to how the Razor movie functioned in the Battlestar Galactica universe — as an interesting stand-alone narrative that included some of the same characters but wasn't required viewing. In any case, we can help brainstorm titles for the new show. We are partial to The Flying Dead, Air Force Zom, Brains on a Plane, and Zombie Airplane!
Netflix's new series Narcos is a meaty dramatization of the rise of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, as narrated by one of the American DEA agents trying to take him down. The voice-over lends the show the almost dreamy air of a legend or fable, a gather round, children, for the story of the most notorious drug kingpin in living memory, and the show itself acknowledges in its awkward opening moments that this saga is in some ways part of the Colombian tradition of magical realism, that the story of Pablo Escobar is both true and surreal at the same time. It's an accurate assessment, and one Narcos additionally plays with by including real footage and photographs woven into its fictionalization. Actual but fantastical, a man and a myth, a business and a scourge, plus several governments waging a futile, grotesque war. Cocaine: It's a hell of a drug.
God help me, I liked The Zac Efron DJ Movie. A kind of variation on Saturday Night Fever set in the world of electronica, the film follows a young disc jockey torn between two worlds — with ambition and romance on the one side, and his loyal, scrappy friends on the other. It’s all big, dumb, broad strokes, with plot points visible from miles away. But it works where it matters: The music is fantastic, and the film invests you in its central relationship.
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