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Sundance: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's Very Personal Film Me & Earl & the Dying Girl

There are more dying teen love stories on the horizon. One of the most admired films to premiere at Sundance is Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, adapted by a young adult novel of the same name. The film stars Thomas Mann as a witty, creative, but isolated high school senior named Greg, who is forced to visit his classmate Rachel, who just has been diagnosed with leukemia played by Olivia Cooke. Needless to say, Greg and Rachel don’t just hang out that one time. From standing ovations to audiences sobbing in unison, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s highly personal film is generating highly personal responses. Gomez-Rejon spoke with John Horn, host of Southern California Public Radio's new arts and entertainment show The Frame, about the highly personal nature of the film, sparking a bidding war, and rushing to complete the film just hours before Sundance started. (Listen to part of the interview below, and subscribe to "The Frame" at iTunes or Stitcher.)

"I didn’t sleep for three and a half days just because I’m an introvert." »

Rose Byrne Will Reprise Her Role as Moira MacTaggert in X-Men: Apocalypse

Rose Byrne, who made a brief appearance in X-Men: First Class as CIA agent and Professor Xavier's (James McAvoy's) love interest Moira MacTaggert, will return to reprise her role in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. "She’s a significant character in the movie,” Apocalypse writer Simon Kinberg told Entertainment Weekly. MacTaggert will be joining a new cast playing the younger selves of Storm, Jean Grey, and Cyclops, but the main arc of the movie will focus on Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast. Another thing that is for certain is that the movie will be heavy on '80s nostalgia. "That’s the era that I grew up in," Kinberg said. "The music, the fashion, the videogames: We really want to integrate all of that in the movie, and have it infuse the movie with a different vibe." Rad! 

  • Posted 1/31/15 at 4:36 PM
  • Movies

Movie Review: Black or White Has Big Ideas But Not Much Humanity

Black or White isn’t so much an offensive movie as it is a pointless one. On its surface, Mike Binder’s film about a widowed white grandfather fighting to maintain custody of his biracial grandchild from her paternal black grandmother has all the hallmarks of a white savior melodrama. Told from the point of view of wealthy Santa Monica attorney Elliot (Kevin Costner), who has recently lost his beloved wife to a car accident, the film details his struggles to raise 7-year-old Eloise (a charming Jillian Estell) while dealing with a bitter legal battle that ensues after Rowena (Octavia Spencer), mother to the child’s estranged father, decides that Eloise needs to have a better sense of her black identity.

Black or White wants to say Big Important Things. »

Dame Helen Mirren Shows You How To Ride the Subway

So remember how Tom Hanks just like, lounged around the New York City subway like a house cat? Well, here is Dame Helen Mirren, spotted by an Instagram user who kept their wits about them, demonstrating exceptional subway etiquette. Even though there is clearly ample space around her, Mirren has her bag on her lap, and she is not weird about sitting next to another human being. (More often than not, it is the gesture of creating space that is important.) And we would just like to note that her coat game is. On. Point. The MTA should just ditch their courtesy ads for this photo of La Mirren.

Director Abderrahmane Sissako Talks About the Humanity of Jihadists

When it premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, which takes place during a 2012 Jihadist takeover of Northern Mali, was recognized as a remarkably topical movie that was still exemplary of its director’s generous, lyrical vision of the world. In his review of the film this week, David Edelstein writes: “For a film that makes you sick with dread, Timbuktu has a light, at times glancing touch. Sissako’s frames are open, uninsistent, and he even shows some sympathy for his villains, who are severe but not sadistic.” Ever since its premiere, the film’s topicality has only grown – as has the power of its humanism. The film also represents a major breakthrough for its director. The 53-year-old Sissako, who was born in Mauritania but works mostly in Mali, is today among Africa’s foremost living filmmakers, with such notable films as the lyrical, understated drama Waiting for Happiness (2002) and the anti-globalization legal comedy-drama Bamako (2006) on his resume. But Timbuktu, which has been nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year, might be the most prominent, ambitious and passionate film he’s made yet. Sissako spoke with us during the film’s premiere at the New York Film Festival last fall.

"I think it’s quite interesting that humanism can be surprising at all." »

  • Posted 1/31/15 at 1:49 PM
  • Scares

Whitney Houston's Daughter Found Unresponsive in Bathtub

Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late, great Whitney Houston, was found unresponsive in a bathtub on Saturday, according to the police. She was reportedly discovered by her husband, Nick Gordon, and a friend. They called 911 and administered CPR until the police and paramedics arrived on the scene to revive her. She has been taken to North Fulton Hospital, where she is currently recovering in the ICU. While the circumstances surrounding the incident are currently unknown, there is an eerie parallel to her mother's death almost three years prior who died after she was found unresponsive in a tub. We wish Bobbi Kristina a speedy recovery.

Glee Recap: Elevator Horror Story

Here are a few things Glee would like for you to know: For the duration of the series, there will be no fourth wall. The writers have read all your fan-fiction, probably out loud to one another. And (perhaps most importantly) show circles are BACK.


  • Posted 1/31/15 at 12:14 PM
  • Crime

Suge Knight Has Been Charged With Murder

The LAPD has charged Marion "Suge" Knight with murder after he allegedly ran over two men — killing one — on the set of Straight Outta Compton. Knight turned himself in and is currently being held on $2 million bail in a West Hollywood jail. His attorney James Blatt told the Los Angeles Times that a group of people were "attempting to drag him outside of the vehicle when he made an effort to escape ... in fear for his life." Blatt added, "I am confident Mr. Knight will be exonerated." Knight is no stranger to fishy, controversial narratives: May we remind you that he was driving the car when Tupac Shakur was killed.

Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman (Okay, Key & Peele) Have Some Thoughts About the Oscar Nominations

As some of you know, the sports are happening real soon. So far, the most delightful thing to emerge from this showdown — other than cheaters with saggy balls — have been the press conferences of the Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman. They've been a study in contrast: the loquacious and opinionated Sherman alongside the taciturn Lynch. Key & Peele play Lynch and Sherman giving a press conference on our upcoming Super Bowl: the Academy Awards.

Sarah Silverman on I Smile Back and Shooting Sex Scenes

If comedy is just a front to hide the darkness within, then Sarah Silverman has fully lifted the veil with her dramatic turn in the positively bleak I Smile Back. It’s a raw and fully-committed performance involving nudity, some horribly degrading sex, and masturbating on a teddy bear with her sleeping daughter beside her. And unlike other comediennes who’ve veered into drama, none of it felt like a stretch. But after 85 minutes of watching Silverman as bipolar housewife Laney Brooks, Napalm bombing her unhappiness with alcohol, cocaine, and wildly self-destructive extramarital affairs, it was a relief to see the actress as her acerbic self in the audience Q&A. Why did she do the role? “Why wouldn’t I? What am I − busy?” she replied. Asked if she gets depressed, Silverman said she can’t bring herself to watch a YouTube video her mother sent her called “Elephants Reunited After Twenty Years,” she said, “as well as most Pixar films.” And, no, she didn’t find the movie cathartic because she spends plenty of time crying in her apartment on normal days. The day after the premiere, Jada Yuan caught up with Silverman to talk fake cocaine, nervous diarrhea, and why she relates to Björk.

"I never really think about life in terms of anal sex." »

  • Posted 1/30/15 at 6:36 PM
  • Tv

13 New Photos From Game of Thrones Season 5

Hot on the heels of the new trailer for Game of Thrones' fifth season, HBO has released a bunch of new photos on the show's Facebook page. We've got new characters (including Jonathan Pryce's High Sparrow and Alexander Siddig's Doran Martell), new locations, and new costumes. Tyrion's even grown a beard; that boat he got on last year was apparently going to Portland.

  • Posted 1/30/15 at 5:53 PM

An Open Letter to the Jerk at This Week’s Savages Show

Dear Sir,

I have just received word that you are considering yelling out a comment regarding the appearance of the female musician on stage. On behalf of myself and many other audience members, I would like to offer some words that were recently trademarked by Taylor Swift: “Just … don’t.”

I saw you at the Savages show on Wednesday night at Mercury Lounge. Did you have fun? A lot of people around you did not, right after you felt the need to yell at please-evacuate-the-theater volume, “The drummer is so sexxxxxxy!” First of all, I take you to be the kind of person who spends a good 75 percent of the show on your phone, so you couldn’t even bother to look up her name? Her name is Fay Milton. She plays with steady wildness and I think she is one of the best rock drummers in the world right now. If you absolutely had to yell something out, and I still wish you hadn’t, “You’re awesome, Fay” would have been a slightly more humane choice, although there is still like no wayyyyy she is going to date you. Sorry/not sorry.

Not unlike when someone farts at a show, a comment like this can completely change the atmosphere. »

Casey Affleck and Matthias Schoenaerts to Explore the Beauty and Majesty of the American Wilderness for HBO’s Lewis and Clark

Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, and Edward Norton decided they wanted to make a miniseries about Lewis and Clark, and now they've gotten HBO to green-light it. Based on Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage, the six-hour miniseries will star Casey Affleck as melancholic explorer Meriwether Lewis and Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone) as the rough-and-tumble soldier William Clark. No word yet on who's playing Sacagawea; fingers crossed it won't be Rooney Mara.

  • Posted 1/30/15 at 5:11 PM
  • Tv

Game of Thrones Season 5’s First Trailer Promises a Lot of Changes From the Book

The first trailer for the next season of Game of Thrones premiered last night after the show's Imax screenings, and wow, book-readers should get ready for a lot of changes. Major characters are missing, people are appearing in parts of Westeros they shouldn't, and most shocking, the entire thing is set to a cover of David Bowie's "Heroes." That song never appeared in the books at all.

Watch the trailer below, and then click here to read about the 10 things we learned.

Here’s Sia’s Predictably Odd Ellen Performance

Sia was on Ellen today, and in signature style, her performance was elaborate and identity-obfuscating. As usual, tiny dancer Maddie Ziegler was there, but not as per usual, so were a bunch of other tweens in giant white boxes. To all those boring musicians who just stand there and sing a song while plaintively holding a microphone, it is time to step up your game. Lip-synching tweens in boxes has now been done, though, so come up with something else.

Sundance Review: Christopher Abbott Carries the Sublime, Dreamlike James White

James White begins in a burst of abstraction, with Christopher Abbott’s face coming in and out of focus in extreme close-up, swaying slowly in the warm haze of a nightclub. The throbbing club music battles the gentle songs playing through the young man’s earbuds, blending into a sonic blur. Director Josh Mond’s frame starts off close, too close, then pulls back a bit, then jumps in again — as if trying to find the right distance. But once it settles, the handheld camera never loses its focus on Abbott. It remains fixed on him for the rest of the film, as if it has captured a prime specimen and isn’t about to let go. 


Snapchat to Make a Web Series, With a Spielberg

New Hollywood royalty takes on a new medium: Sasha Spielberg (Steven's daughter) and Emily Goldwyn (John's daughter) will make Snapchat's first official web series. Literally Can't Even will focus on the misadventures of the two L.A.-based comedians and appear on Snapchat's new "Snap Channel" (the one that pissed off all the teens) as part of "Discover" — the place where they'll likely start to wrap in media partners and advertising deals. If you're wondering whether the web series will disappear just like a regular Snapchat might, the answer is yes: "The episodes will disappear after 24 hours." No reruns for this web series. 

Project Almanac Is a Good B-Movie That Hits Its Marks

Frank Sinatra (via Paul Anka) is probably the only person who has ever had too few regrets to mention; the rest of us find solace in fantasies of going back and doing it again. The smart and super-slick teen time-machine picture Project Almanac is the latest incarnation of this would-coulda-shoulda pipe-dream — a movie so knowing that its characters reference LooperGroundhog Day, and maybe five other films that lay out the pros and cons of rewriting the past. They’ve seen what happens but they never learn!

The mood gets pretty dark and desperate for a larkish teen pic. »

Kristen Wiig Wins the Lottery, Becomes Oprah in Welcome to Me

UPDATE: It appears that the trailer was just for international audiences (too hot for American audiences!) It has been removed.  

Before she begins to bust ghosts, Kristen Wiig will appear in yet another indie movie: Welcome to Me. She's a weird girl, off her meds, who hits it big in the lottery and starts her own talk show — just like Oprah. The real Wiig, as it turns out, is also good at talk shows. She's gone Method. 

Sundance Review: Michael Fassbender Gets His Clint Eastwood On in Slow West

As a cigarillo-chomping, preternaturally cool bounty-hunter helping a young Scots boy navigate the American frontier, Michael Fassbender does a pretty mean Clint Eastwood. Slow West, written and directed by musician turned director John Maclean, is no ordinary Western, though Fassbender's Silas Selleck does seem at times like he’s wandered out of our collective dreams of the genre; he’s as much a comment as he is a stand-alone character.

"Slow West is kind of a mess, but there’s too much good stuff here to ignore." »


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