Surprise! It is already time for another MTV Video Music Awards. (Yes, it has been a year since the Great Miley Incident.) The 2014 festivities begin this Sunday — August 24 — at 9 p.m. ET, and MTV has promised us performances from Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Maroon 5, Nicki Minaj, Sam Smith, Usher, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Beyoncé. Naturally, here at Vulture, we're gearing up to play along. Join us Sunday night for a red-carpet slideshow; live-tweeting from Vulture's Lindsey Weber and Jesse David Fox over @Vulture; a live-blog from Vulture music critic Lindsay Zoladz; and the most crucial GIFs, videos, and audience reaction shots as they happen. Afterwards, we'll be back with our postshow thoughts, the best frozen moments, and a slew of photos from the after-parties. We'll be busy. Join us!
Comic-book iconoclast Frank Miller is his own best character. After his much-imitated, years-long run on Marvel Comics' Daredevil, he bullishly pushed the boundaries of how mainstream comics stories were told in milestone titles like The Dark Knight Returns, Ronin, and 300. His heroes are similarly self-assured beyond mere arrogance: They're above reproach, a standard that Miller maintains as a rejection of psychological realism. His comics often take place in decadent cities. But even in his Sin City comics, Miller maintains an undiminished — albeit deranged — sense of optimism and romance. In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Robert Rodriguez's new "translation" of Miller's hyper-violent neo-noir comics, Josh Brolin plays a sucker that pines for Eva Green's vicious (and frequently naked) femme fatale with a little help from killer friends Mickey Rourke and Rosario Dawson. Vulture talked to Miller about how he stays optimistic, what the future of comics looks like to him, and why he likes pissing off readers.
"You cannot defeat the Goddess," says one character in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. "She cannot die." He's referring to Ava Lord, the seductive black widow who gives the film its title, and when she's played by Eva Green, who can blame him for using heavenly superlatives? There's always been something otherworldly about Green, who first impressed (and undressed) in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers, won best Bond Girl ever honors with Casino Royale, and just this year starred as the formidable Artemesia in 300: Rise of an Empire and toplined the Showtime series Penny Dreadful. A few weeks ago in Los Angeles, the slinky Green met up with Vulture at The Four Seasons to tell us how she got into character for the Robert Rodriguez–directed Sin City, and how she felt about getting out of her clothes for it.
James Franco should be sleepy. It's after midnight, and he's just wrapped a long shoot on the indie Michael, where he stars as an ex-gay activist struggling with his sexuality. Most actors would spend their twilight hours heading to bed or studying the next day's script pages, but the idea of rest is almost anathema to a compulsive multitasker like Franco, who's instead taken that free time to call up Vulture to discuss pornography — specifically, the sadomasochistic kind.
In recent years, George Takei, once known mainly as the guy who played Sulu on the original Star Trek in the '60s, has become a fixture on talk shows and just about everywhere else — partly because of his out-and-proud status as a gay American, and partly because of his willingness to speak about his family’s imprisonment in a World War II Japanese-American internment camp. He’s a great spokesman for these causes — funny, self-deprecating, earnest but not sanctimonious. But he also bridges an important gap: He can speak both to America’s sordid, bigoted past and to its fundamental capacity for goodness. He’s a man who was imprisoned by his country — literally, for his ethnicity, and figuratively, for his sexual orientation. And yet, here he is, persistent, happy, driven. The very picture of the country’s can-do spirit.
Has there been a denser soap-operatic universe in recent TV history than True Blood’s? Running through the many convoluted love stories, supernatural plotlines, and centuries-old beefs would surely take longer than an hour or two sipping whiskey at
Merlotte’s Bellefleur’s. An easier, though still arduous, way to measure how ornately the series has been constructed is by flipping through the dizzying number of characters it has introduced (and in so many cases, killed off gruesomely) over the course of its seven seasons. But how much do you even remember about them? We thought we’d test your recall of 50 different True Blood characters — from main protagonist Sookie Stackhouse to bit players — with this superfan quiz. Select the correct description from the four choices next to each character’s image to see whether you can separate fact from Fangstasia.
You don’t know why you haven’t watched it. Your nerdier friends have loved it since it was on PBS back in the day, and you knew a girl in high school who knit her own giant scarf during homeroom because that actor who looked kind of like Harpo Marx wore one when he played “the Doctor.” Maybe you’re like me, and when Doctor Who fandom started pushing Star Wars and Star Trek out of your local comic convention, your adolescent heart turned cold and rejected the low-budget British sci-fi series out of hand.
Turns out our pop stars aren't just content with acting in their music videos, they want something more. Like an appearance in an actual movie. For many of the musicians who briefly appeared in films this year, it wasn't their first time on the big screen. But are they getting any better? Do we have a Crossroads situation coming up? (Maybe.) Here's how 2014's attempts stacked up.
Crazily uneven as it is, Matthew Weiner’s comic drama Are You Here should be seen on account of being … Matthew Weiner’s. Mad Men is among TV’s supreme dramatic achievements, and anything that illuminates its creator’s worldview — especially as we prepare for the final episodes — is helpful in putting the show in perspective. And the movie is very illuminating. It’s practically an essay on the counterculture, in how being an unruly outsider can liberate us from the meaninglessness of the capitalist grind — and yet also be a stage for self-destruction. It’s funny, clunky, earnest, and barely credible, but it’s all of a piece.
The web of celebrities dumping ice-cold water on their heads soldiers on. Today: Tom Hanks, Jessica Chastain, and Benedict Cumberbatch — who got iced quite a few times to create some additional bucket-based comedy. Bless him.
I feel like this show is an accidental advice series sometimes, and this chapter is called “Your 20s Are an Endless Series of Ball-Breakingly Terrible Jobs and How You Deal With Them Will Impact Your Outlook on Life.”
If you didn’t have a shitty job in your 20s you might be a cyborg; the entire decade is designed for the maximum full-time struggle between your need to make money and your desire to figure out how to be a person, two parallel roads never destined to meet. Everything is a means to an end — you put up with the unhinged bakery owner throwing pots around the kitchen because you walk away with $200 in tips every day, or you wear the ill-fitting, sweat-inducing cheap suit to your office job because you’re guaranteed to have weekends and holidays off. The chief aim is survival, and sometimes that means calling in sick to protect your mental health at all costs.
Here is a disconcerting truth: We’re nearly through with August, and those winsome summer Fridays, if you're lucky enough to have them, will soon become a faint memory, just an Instagram of bare feet partly buried in the sand, the spilled remains of a piña colada on a deck, and a grill, once open, now closed. But take heart! There’s still time left to hunker down with some sunscreen, your preferred cold beverage, and a book that’s just the right blend of intellectually stimulating and page-flippingly enjoyable. Here are 12 Vulture-recommended titles to help you relax during the remaining hours of summer.
For any Chappelle’s Show fan, the name Charlie Murphy requires some kind of trigger warning, as it immediately calls up the “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” sketch that brought “I’m Rick James, bitch!” into the world. But there’s a lot more to the writer-actor-comedian than reminiscences of youthful debauchery as a member of younger brother Eddie’s entourage. In addition to his busy touring schedule, Murphy has made memorable voice-acting appearances on The Boondocks and Black Dynamite, and is now one of the stars of Black Jesus. The live-action Adult Swim series co-created by Aaron McGruder is unsurprisingly controversial, as it depicts what might happen were the Son of God to return to present-day Compton and build a community garden where he and his disciples can be comfortably “smokin’, drinkin’, and chillin’.” Murphy plays Vic, a local landlord whose difficulty in accepting that the weed-happy guy living in a van might actually be the messiah leads him to hire a ne’er-do-well homeless guy named Lloyd (Friday’s John Witherspoon) to help keep tabs on the implausible title character.
Jason Stackhouse and Sarah Newlin in the church. Lafayette and James in the parking lot. Jason and Jessica in the back of a pick-up truck. Eric and his fangbanger from Estonia going at it for six hours in the Fangtasia dungeon. Jason and a random hook-up outside Merlotte's by the dumpster. The whole town in front of Sookie Stackhouse's residence. In the oversexed world of True Blood, such moments are commonplace; everyone in Bon Temps is doing it everywhere. But of all the sex scenes that have taken place on the show over the course of its seven seasons, it’s not the many very sweet, touching, and romantic moments that will be True Blood’s legacy, but the crazy, bloody, head-turning ones. Here are seven of True Blood’s craziest and most memorable sex scenes.
Advertising slogans shouldn’t really affect one’s critical judgment of a film. But full disclosure, seeing a brief online ad for If I Stay a couple of weeks ago asking if we were “ready for all the #feels” might have put me in the wrong mind-set for the movie. Based on Gayle Forman’s best-selling novel, If I Stay follows a young, promising teenage cellist, her whole life ahead of her, who winds up comatose after a horrific car accident. While Mia’s (Chloe Grace Moretz) body lies lifeless on a bed, a ghostly version of her haunts the corridors of the hospital, listens in on her loved ones, and reminisces about her life. On the surface, it seems perfect for our “feels”-obsessed culture — in which feelings are commodified and presented to us as bite-size, viral fixes, instead of things that come organically from within. “Come see a near-death teenager movie and get sad,” it seems to say, the way an Upworthy headline might tell me what I need to feel about something before I even know what the hell it is.
Here are the 19 people and programs I'll be rooting for when the Emmys are handed out on Monday night. Please know that I'll probably spend half the night (which I’ll be live-blogging) grumbling that a lot of my favorite shows and artists got snubbed — for my list of grievances, click here — but since the purpose of this piece is to celebrate the best of what did get nominated, I'll refrain from bringing them up here. Let’s proceed.
The 66th Annual Primetime Emmys are Monday, and plenty of wonderful — and some staggeringly wonderful — shows and performers will no doubt walk away with armloads of awards. But many will not. Many terrific, thrilling shows and performers were not even nominated, if you can believe it. Such is life. Let us now air those grievances.