Tag Archives: av club

Longreads Goes to the Movies: A Reading List

It’s 10:45 p.m., and I’m about to indulge in one of my strangest habits: watching a horror movie, alone, late at night. My cat is nearby, but he sleeps through this particular ritual. There are rules; the lights stay on. I don’t watch movies about home invasions or slasher flicks. Minimal gore, please. I love demon possessions, haunted houses, and paranormal investigations. Tonight, for instance, I’m watching the American version of The Ring for the first time. I perch my laptop on the edge, reach for the soft pretzel I picked up on the way home and press play. The scenes so far are tinged green; it is always raining. There’s an ill-fated Amber Tamblyn, gone in five minutes. There’s Adam Brody, harbinger of death and teen angst. My cat stretches, body bisecting the coffee table. The ceiling fan burns bright, blades in orbit.

What are your movie habits? What films do you return to, over and over? Here are five stories about A League of Their Own, High Fidelity, the films of John Hughes, Ghost in the Shell and, the criticism of Roger Ebert.

1. “‘A League of Their Own’ Stands the Test of Time.” (ESPNW Staff, ESPN, June 2017)

An oral history celebrating the 25th anniversary of the greatest baseball movie ever made, A League of Their Own, a film based on the real-life adventures of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

2. “I Grew Up in a John Hughes Movie.” (Jason Diamond, BuzzFeed, August 2014)

Jason Diamond wrote this beautiful essay two years before his memoir Searching for John Hughes debuted, and it made me want to watch and re-watch all of his films. Diamond’s childhood in the Chicago suburb of Skokie mirrored the neighborhood in Hughes’ iconic teen-centric films, Shermer, Illinois.

3. “Roger Ebert’s Zero-Star Movies.” (Will Sloan, Hazlitt, February 2017)

I finally accepted the fact I wanted to (maybe, possibly) be a Serious Writer the same summer I read Chris Jones’ iconic profile of Roger Ebert in Esquire. Ebert has held a small but significant piece of my heart ever since. At Hazlitt, Will Sloan explores the movies Ebert hated most, where he wonders, “What does it mean when the most famous and widely read American film critic regards a movie as ‘artistically inept and morally repugnant’?”

4. “All Shell, No Ghost.” (Eric Chang, Vogue, April 2017)

On hacking as “a method of seeing,” the parallel histories of Eastern and Western cyberpunk storytelling, and the laziness inherent in whitewashed films.

5. “‘High Fidelity’ Captured the Snob’s–and the Soundtrack’s–Waning Powers.” (Sean O’Neal, The A.V. Club, March 2017)

My first movie soundtrack was PhenomenonI’ve still never seen the movie, but I know every word to Eric Clapton’s lead single, “Change the World.” I can still hear Clapton crooning “and our love would ruuuuuuuule…” I thought Bryan Ferry’s “Dance With Life (The Brilliant Life)” was unspeakably beautiful (still do, honestly). My family listened to the CD on repeat. According to MovieTunes, this soundtrack was “the cutting edge of a collaborative art-form whose time has come.” The exuberance of 1996 stands in stark contrast to 2000—what a difference four years makes!—as you can see in Sean O’Neal’s take on the jaded and vaguely anachronistic High Fidelity and its accompanying soundtrack.

Behind the Scenes of Children’s Television: A Reading List

Children’s television programming is always colorful, sometimes educational, and often bizarre. A human-sized hamster wheel? A talking chair? Grown men going to bat for a herd of rainbow-colored ponies? These stories explore the art and economics of making television for kids.

1. “‘It Smelled Like Death’: An Oral History of the Double Dare Obstacle Course.” (Marah Eakin, A.V. Club, November 2016)

Nickelodeon’s hit game show, Double Dare, aired in the late ’80s and early ’90s (with a season-long remount in 2000), and one of its biggest draws was its obstacle course. The A.V. Club spoke to host Marc Summers, the producers and a variety of set designers about the gallons of whipped cream, baked beans and Gak it took to make the messiest show on TV. Pro tip: Don’t eat while reading this. Read more…

14 Stories About Love: A Reading List

Heartbreak, desire, dating, romance—Valentine’s Day brings all of these experiences to the forefront of our minds and hearts. Revel in all the feels with these 14 (get it?) essays and interviews.

1. “A Modern Guide to the Love Letter.” (John Biguenet, The Atlantic, February 2015)

2. “Love is Like Cocaine.” (Helen Fisher, Nautilus, February 2016)

3. “Unlove Me: I Found Love Because I Was Lucky, Not Because I Changed Myself.” (Maris Kreizman, Brooklyn, February 2016)

Read more…

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.

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David Letterman’s Reluctance on Becoming an Actor

D. Zucker: You know who came in to read for Ted Striker? Bruce Jenner came in to read.

J. Zucker: That’s right. That was funny. And David Letterman tested, too. Letterman was really funny, because… I’m not sure why he tested. I think maybe his agents pushed him to come in or something, because he really didn’t want to. It’s funny, because Letterman’s a satirist and a comic, and he doesn’t take himself seriously enough, in a way, to be an actor.

D. Zucker: Yeah, he didn’t want to be an actor, although—I don’t know if you remember, but he actually came in to read for Kentucky Fried Movie.

J. Zucker: Oh, did he really? I’d forgotten about that!

D. Zucker: Yeah. So we knew him from then, and every time he came in to read, he would have us cracked up for five or 10 minutes before he actually went through with the reading.

J. Zucker: I think acting, to David, there’s something phony about it. I don’t know if he thinks about it that way, but I just feel it’s not his thing. But he actually wasn’t bad. He’s just not an actor. He looked great, and his comic delivery for all those lines was good, but I’ll never forget when we were on the set and did a screen test with him. One of his managers was there, and I sort of came up to him with a big, optimistic smile and said, “Well, I think we’re making an actor out of him!” And his manager’s response was, “Fat chance.” [Laughs.] I must’ve drawn the short straw—and I say that because nobody wants to tell someone that they didn’t get the role—but I ended up being the one to call David and tell him. And he was just relieved. I’ve never seen an actor so happy to be told that he didn’t get the role. A few years later, though, we ended up going on Late Night With David Letterman, all three of us, and we showed the clip of his screen test for Airplane!.

— From The AV Club’s oral history of Airplane!, which looks back on how the hit 1980 comedy was made.

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Longreads Best of 2013: The Most Surprising Piece of Cultural Criticism of the Year

Elizabeth Hyde Stevens is author of the book Make Art Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career.

“I was shocked that Todd VanDerWerff was able to write such a serious essay about the show DuckTales. As a kid, I saw every episode, and didn’t think much about why it was good, or who made it. This essay looks at why Frank Wells and Michael Eisner pumped so much money into the series, and why, sadly, such an expenditure would never happen today.

“Since my own work examines the behind-the-scenes money at play behind the Muppets and Sesame Street, reading this essay on AV Club was like discovering a kindred spirit. I think it takes a lot of courage to seriously exhume and explore the loves of your youth with the wary eyes of an adult. It seems to me like the most mature thing you could do with your time, but most people will dismiss it as kids stuff. But if you care about good art, I think it’s important to know how artists of the past funded their work and got it past the naysaying accountants, executives, and boardrooms. This kind of thing just fascinates me, so finding this article was such a delight!”

DuckTales Invented a New Animated Wonderland—That Quickly Disappeared

Todd VanDerWerff | The AV Club | February 2013 | 9 minutes (2,159 words)

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