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Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ Is A 1980s Cinematic Nostalgia Trip

WARNING – SPOILERS!!! Pac Man, Back to the Future, and Blade Runner are only a few titles that make up the 1980s cinematic nostalgia trip in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, now playing in theaters. Based on the novel by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One follows a young man named Wade Watts who lives in a dystopian United States in 2045. Humanity, as Wade knows it, is plagued by a failing economic system, an ominous corporate-governing body, and a tainted outdoor environment, all the result of an energy crisis caused by global warming, corporate greed, and the depletion of Earth’s fossil fuels. Since the real-world is no longer a pleasant place to spend your time, Wade, like most people, spends his days in the OASIS, an interactive virtual reality comprised of games and puzzles from every video game, movie, book, or television show made primarily between 1980 and 1990, although there are a few exceptions. The OASIS is the mind-child of James Halliday (obviously Cline’s own doppelganger) who, prior to his death, left a hidden Easter Egg inside the OASIS that, if found, provides the winner with his massive fortune and control of the corporation running the OASIS, and that’s where Wade’s (or Parzival as he is named in the OASIS) story begins. Continue reading

‘Make Music Day’ Is Back With 4,500 Concerts and Free Events Nationwide This June

make music day

If you’re looking for more to do this summer than walk to the pool or have an occasional beach day, why not plan a trip around the annual Make Music Day festival this June 21st? Make Music Day is a worldwide event that features concerts, impromptu jam sessions, music lessons, and free events in more than 800 cities across 120 countries. Last year, 4,138 free concerts and events were held in 53 cities across North America in coordination with additional celebrations in cities around the world. All were held on June 21st. As impressive as that is, the organization is looking to one-up itself this year by adding more than 350 additional events to the line-up! That means plenty of destinations to choose from for a midsummer weekend road trip. Fête De La Musique was first started by France’s Ministry of Culture. It was held on the summer solstice in 1982 and since then has become an annual worldwide phenomenon, a celebration of music where all are welcome to participate or merely take in the atmosphere. Check out Make Music’s local links for Minneapolis and Chicago to find events happening in an area near you this summer, and get out and sing on June 21st!

Special 40th Anniversary Screenings of ‘Grease’ Open In Theaters This April

grease

Director Randal Kleiser’s big-screen adaptation of the Broadway hit Grease is celebrating its 40th anniversary this April. To celebrate the occasion, TCM Big Screen Classics Presents and Fathom Events are hosting special screenings of the Oscar-nominated film in theaters across the country. Although Jim Jacob’s and Warren Casey’s original Broadway production received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, Best Choreography (Birch), Best Actor (Barry Bostwick), and Best Costume Design, it was Kleiser’s film adaptation that would go down in history as an American pop-culture icon, with John Travolta (Pulp Fiction, Face/Off) and Olivia Newton-John (Xanadu, Two of a Kind) in the roles of greaser Danny Zuko and good-girl Sandy Olsson. The film received several Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture (Musical/Comedy), Best Actor (Travolta), Best Actress (Newton-John), and Best Original Song for Frankie Valli’s “Grease” and John Farrar’s “You’re The One That I Want,” neither of which is featured in the original musical. John Farrar’s “Hopelessly Devoted To You” also earned the film an Oscar-nomination for Best Original Song. For the anniversary event, special screenings will be played at select theaters on April 8th, April 11th, and April 14th. To find showings near you, visit Fathom Events at the link below and enter your Zip Code on your preferred date, and enjoy the show!

TCM Big Screen Classics Presents and Fathom Events

Ryan Coogler’s ‘Black Panther’ Is A Cultural Phenomenon Because We Made It So

A week after its release in theaters across America, director Ryan Coogler’s new Marvel comic-adaptation, Black Panther, is still setting box office records. The film is the 5th highest domestic debut of all time, and the highest grossing February release in history, with a staggering $202,003,951. It earned more in just 3-days in theaters than any other film featuring a black director and predominantly black cast with an impressive worldwide opening weekend gross of $350 million. The success of the film has not only shattered age-old myths surrounding the “unpopularity” of all-black ensemble movies in Hollywood. It is also changing the way Hollywood, and America at large, view films that deal primarily with black and African American culture. But why is Black Panther such a big deal for America and not simply just another superhero movie with a hero who happens to be black? Continue reading

Will Disney’s Bid For Fox Properties Mean Another Monopoly For The Cable Industry?

disney fox merger

Walt Disney Pictures has come a long way from making full-length animated features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Peter Pan. In the 21st century, the company has reinvented itself with live-action blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean, state-of-the-art computer animated films like Cars and Frozen, and adaptations of children’s literary classics like Roald Dahl’s The BFG and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (out in theaters this March). In recent years, Disney has expanded into more lucrative markets like comic book blockbusters (ie. Marvel comics) and, of course, the Star Wars franchise. The latest Star Wars entry, The Last Jedi, hit the $1 billion mark in worldwide box office sales barely three weeks after its US theatrical release. With a plethora of material to work with, and plenty of money coming in, one would think Disney is far passed its tipping point, but that might not be the case at all. Continue reading

Has The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Changed In The Years Since #OscarsSoWhite

2018 oscars

The nominations for the 90th Annual Academy Awards were released last week and met with mixed reactions. Some were ecstatic, others were disappointed, but how many were surprised? The Academy has been attempting to present itself in a new light in the years since a slew of all-white nominees was presented in the Best Actor category at the 2015 ceremony. Despite the #OscarsSoWhite movement that followed, the same thing happened the next year, sending organizers into a furor that found them completely revamping the membership list in the hopes of getting more diversified nominations. Although the 89th ceremony saw some changes in terms of the voting body, it seemed more like a desperate attempt to show change rather than a legitimate attempt to actually change. Now, in the age of #MeToo, this year’s nominees also fell shy of expectations. Continue reading

Does ‘The Post’ Seek To Glorify The Press In The Era of Fake News?

Steven Spielberg’s latest drama, The Post, may be a celebration of the free press, but in the age of “fake news” it feels more like an attempt to glorify the press rather than focus on its habit of misrepresentation. The Post tells the story of the The Washington Post and its publishing of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The Pentagon Papers (as they came to be called) was a series of documents detailing the extent of the US involvement in the Vietnam War. Upon learning of the atrocities of the war, military analyst Daniel Ellsberg secretly copied and leaked the documents to the press in the hopes that the public would be made aware of the truth.

Kay Graham (portrayed by Meryl Streep in Spielberg’s film) was the acting publisher of The Washington Post at the time. She inherited the role of sole proprietor following her husband’s untimely death by suicide. Graham not only faced a board of all-male stock holders who were ready to oust her at any moment, but also a more hostile-than-friendly editor named Ben Bradlee (portrayed by Tom Hanks), who reportedly informed her that he’d give his left nut to run the Post, himself. Shortly after Graham came into her new position, Martin Weil (Better Call Saul‘s Bob Odenkirk) was sent to meet with Ellsberg to collect the top secret documents in Boston and transport them safely back to Washington. Continue reading

Golden Globes Celebrate #MeToo Movement and 2017’s Achievements in Film

golden globes 2018

The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards didn’t see any misread Best Picture announcements. Instead, host Seth Meyers was booed for his Harvey Weinstein jokes and Oprah Winfrey gave a stirring speech while wearing black in order to support the #MeToo Movement that has shaken Hollywood, hopefully for the better. Celebrities male and female alike took to the red carpet in (mostly) all black attire to show support and solidarity in the cleansing of the industry after moguls like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Jeffrey Tambor were accused of sexual misconduct by a multitude of women. The purging of Hollywood, however, did not take the spotlight away from the achievements we saw in film in 2017. Continue reading

New World War II Drama ‘Darkest Hour’ Brings Churchill’s Perseverance and Leadership To Modern Audiences

Despite the new World War II drama Darkest Hour now playing in theaters nationwide, “Who was Winston Churchill?” still sounds like a question you’re likely to find on one of those ‘the dumbing down of America has happened’ videos. While Churchill may not have been American, himself, his influence and importance in the events of the mid-20th Century cannot be overstated. Winston Churchill was elected Britain’s Prime Minister in 1940, a position he held throughout the remainder of World War II and again from 1951 to 1955. Before his career in politics he had worked as a writer and served as a member of the British Army. His election in 1940 came at a time when Britain’s, and indeed the future of the whole of Western Europe was uncertain. Hitler had been elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and, by the time of Churchill’s election, was already marching across France, pushing British forces to the shores of the English Channel, where the famous evacuation at Dunkirk took place (if you haven’t seen Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, I highly recommend it!).

With the United States still hesitant to enter the war effort in either Europe or the Pacific, the newly appointed Prime Minister was faced with the choice of either regrouping and rallying national support to continue the war effort against Nazi Germany, or agreeing to sign a peace accord with Hitler and the Axis Powers. As the United Kingdom stood at the brink of invasion, it was up to Churchill to persuade Parliament, King George VI, and the people of Britain that the war could be won and that it was worth fighting, an extremely difficult prospect considering the ever-growing influence of Nazi Germany and the reluctance of the United States to enter the war. Continue reading

Christopher Plummer Receives Golden Globe Nomination For Last Minute Role In ‘All The Money In The World’

The Last Jedi may be doing well at the box office, but it’s not doing much to impress fans and critics. One holiday release that’s been impressing everyone, however, is director Ridley Scott’s adaptation of author John Pearson’s All the Money in the World. The film follows the 1973 kidnapping of Jean Paul Getty III, aka Paul Getty, the grandson of oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty. The latter famously refused to pay his grandson’s ransom, despite his vast fortune in the oil industry, leaving the former’s mother, Gail Harris, in the position of having to convince her billionaire in-law to put family ahead of wealth. All the Money in the World has already received three Golden Globe nominations, including one for Best Supporting Actor, Christopher Plummer. Although his nomination is certainly deserving, it almost didn’t happen. Continue reading