Film Review: Mr. Roosevelt

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Noël Wells’ feature debut is not expressly autobiographical, but there are certainly many parallels between the flailing comedian protagonist and the writer/director/star of the film. Wells was on one season of SNL, but really turned heads as Aziz Ansari’s season 1 paramour on Master of None. Her first film proves that though she’s a talented actress, she’s an even better writer and director. Those others were just holding her back…

Read the rest at Hammer to Nail!

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Film Review: Driftwood

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Paul Taylor hates exposition so much; he created a film that has none whatsoever. Without dialogue, people can’t say unnatural things like, “You’re my brother,” and “you know how we robbed that bank together?” Instead, Taylor drops the audience right into a world that looks a lot like ours, but, as we soon come to realize, it has some fundamental differences. Mainly, this is a world in which young adults wash up on the beach like so much Driftwood. These beach people come partially dressed but entirely devoid of worldly knowledge. The first one we meet is a Young Woman (Joslyn Jensen). We never learn her name or if she even has one. Nor do we learn the name of the Old Man (Paul C. Kelly) who gathers her up and takes her to his home. It’s never clear where she’s from or why she needs someone to teach her how to eat, groom, and use the toilet. What she doesn’t need, however, is the patriarchal form his help takes, nor the increasingly iron fist with which he rules…

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22 Stars Who Looked Drastically Different Before Fame

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They’re called stars for a reason. To us mere mortals, they seem like untouchable, otherworldly creatures that fell from the sky in their flawless forms. But we’ll let you in on a secret. Even the most ethereal of celebrities were once regular humans hailing from perfectly average places like Bay City and Yonkers. Fortunately for the fans, they also went to high school with other people who didn’t hesitate to plaster their yearbook photos all over the Internet post-fame.

The celebrities on this list had to undergo drastic Hollywood makeovers in order to become the golden gods we know today. It’s not that they weren’t gorgeous to begin with. It’s tough to make it in Hollywood without first scoring high on the beauty standard scale. And, of course, talent goes a long way. But the people on this list had to do something drastic with their looks in order to stand out from the sea of hotties trying to hit the big time.

Though some of them might wish otherwise, these famous faces can’t deny the photographic evidence of their former looks. In some cases, you can still see their origins reflected in their glamorous new appearances. For others, you might not even suspect they were related, let alone the same person.

Prepare yourselves for the astonishing transformations of these 22 Stars Who Looked Drastically Different Before Fame.

Read the list at Screenrant!

Film Review: Sammy Davis, Jr.: I Gotta Be Me

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“Even if you win, you don’t win.”

That’s the lesson Sammy learned the day he got jumped by a racist fellow infantryman and won the fight. Nursing his well-deserved wounds, the man told Davis that he was “still a [n word].” That was the moment that Davis decided fighting wasn’t getting him anywhere. If he was going to change the hearts of white America, he had to try another tactic.

Samuel D. Pollard’s documentary about the career of Sammy Davis, Jr. is more than just a Hollywood biography. At a time when race relations have returned to the forefront of America’s consciousness, Sammy’s struggle rings true to a shameful degree. Despite his innumerable talents, he still faced plenty of discrimination on account of his skin color and later, his Jewish faith. But his unflappable spirit was also a beacon of hope for other marginalized people. As one interviewee puts it, his success, “made [African Americans] feel special and for a time feel equal”.

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Film Review: Cassette

1cassetteZach Taylor’s wistful documentary Cassette is an in-depth exploration of a recording format that lives on despite having been declared dead more than 20 years ago. It’s not just niche hipsters and nostalgic punk old timers that are keeping it alive.

It’s the concept of the “mix tape” in particular that endures. The mix-tape is an ideology. It’s the notion that we can curate what we hear and what we share with others. Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose work is undeniably cool but also inarguably mainstream, originally called his smash Broadway musical “the Hamilton Mix-Tape.”He later released a successful album of re-mixes and covers with that title. Taylor’s documentary is also a mix-tape. It’s a compilation of tributes to the format alongside more factual information about its history.

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18 TV Stars Who Couldn’t Make It In Movies

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It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when films were considered infinitely more prestigious than television.

There was almost no crossover between TV stars and movie stars. When a television actor “graduated” to feature films, it was a massive achievement. If all went well, as it did for Bruce Willis and George Clooney, they would never again appear on the small screen. If a film star did show up on television, it was either stunt casting for a popular show (i.e. when Julia Roberts did an episode of Friends) or else it spelled certain doom for their career.

But then television got good. Shows like The Sopranos and The Wire were so impactful and cinematic that the lines between mediums began to blur. In this brave new world of streaming, there’s almost no difference between TV and movies besides running time. And yet, there are still some TV actors who can’t seem to cross over to celluloid.

It’s difficult to say why this happens. Whatever the reason, it means they won’t be getting those big paychecks and sweet summer jobs. Most of the actors on this list are still doing fine, and will probably pop up on our televisions indefinitely. You just won’t see them at a theater near you any time soon.

Read the list at Screenrant!

15 Celebrities Who Died In Freak Accidents

brandon-lee-the-crow-aaliyah-queen-of-the-damnedThe death of a beloved celebrity will always grip the hearts of fans, and send a ripple of despair across Facebook. But if these popular performers were getting on in years or were known to make precarious life choices, their passing is not necessarily a surprise.

What we are never prepared for are the freak accidents. One minute, they seem perfectly fine, and then suddenly, they’re just gone. Often times, they just got profoundly unlucky. Occasionally, they were being uncharacteristically reckless. Sometimes, there’s a bit of mystery surrounding the events and it’s entirely likely we will never know the whole story.

It’s a bittersweet easement of the pain for mourners to have someone to blame in these cases. But the guilty parties are not always clear-cut or even possible to identify. As awful as it is to think about, sometimes it’s just pure happenstance that prematurely ends the lives and careers of our adored entertainers.

Whatever series of unfortunate events that led to the shocking demise of these 15 celebrities, they all have one thing in common: their stars were snuffed out far too soon and they are sorely missed. Be careful out there, friends.

Read the list at Screenrant!